With Brazil the overwhelming favorite to win the World Cup on home soil, that means the other three teams in Group A are focusing on grabbing a second-place finish. As a result, Mexico and Cameroon will both be eager to pick up three points in their opener to position themselves for the remainder of the group stage.
MEXICO’S LINEUP SET?: Mexico coach Miguel Herrera has not been afraid to reveal lineups early. In this case, there are some big names moving in and out of the lineup. The highlights? Guillermo Ochoa will get the nod to start in goal, beating out 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jesús Corona, and Javier "Chicharito" Hernández will be on the bench, with Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta starting at forward.
OFFICIAL: Mexico team to face Cameroon: Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Márquez, Moreno, Layun, Vázquez, Guardado, Herrrera, Dos Santos, Peralta.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) June 12, 2014
BONUS STRIKE RESOLVED: Cameroon enter the tournament having briefly threatened to strike before departing for Brazil. Though the dispute, reportedly over bonuses, was resolved and the team eventually made it to their base camp in Vitoria, it remains to be seen if they are in the right frame of mind for this game.
WILL MEXICO’S STRIKERS FIND THE NET?: Hernandez has struggled for some time for both club and country. Dos Santos has dealt with injuries, and while Peralta and Raul Jiménez won the 2012 Olympic tournament, neither has played in the World Cup before. Can any of these players be counted on to score goals? El Tri will need the strikers even more after midfielder and occasional goal threat Luis Montes went down with a broken leg in a tuneup friendly against Ecuador.
FRIENDLY FORM: Cameroon enter the World Cup undefeated in tuneup friendlies (3-0-1), with the only non-win a 2-2 draw against World Cup-bound opposition Germany. Meanwhile, Mexico went 2-2 in their pre-World Cup friendlies, with three of their opponents also headed to Brazil (3-1 win against Ecuador, 1-0 losses to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal).
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Samuel Eto’o, forward, Cameroon -- Going into his fourth and likely final World Cup, the forward, most recently seen playing for Chelsea, will try to go out with a bang and attempt to help the Indomitable Lions reach the knock-out stage for the first time since 1990. He’s already one of the best players Cameroon has ever produced, but a deep run would secure his legacy, and not just for his comical "old man" goal celebrations.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Miguel Layún, defender, Mexico -- Arguably the player whose reputation has risen highest since Herrera became Mexico manager, Layún has gone from Liga MX laughingstock to one of El Tri’s most dependable defenders, not to mention a threat to set up and score goals from the run of play.