Cameroon and Croatia both come into Wednesday’s match in Manaus desperate for a result. They each lost their opening games of the tournament and they will likely need to come away with at least a point if they hope to advance.
REFEREE FIASCO: Croatia manager Niko Kovac was none too pleased when his team was whistled for the game-deciding penalty against Brazil with the score tied 1-1. In his post-game press conference Kovac said, “If anybody saw this was a penalty anywhere in the stadium, raise their hands. If you continue like this, you will have 100 penalties.” He later added on Croatian TV, “If that was a penalty, we don’t need to play football anymore.”
ETO’O OUT: Even though he played all 90 minutes against Mexico in the first match of the tournament, it looks like Samuel Eto’o will at least miss out on this match against Croatia due to an ongoing knee injury. Eto’o is the nation’s leading all-time scorer by a healthy 23-goal margin and he has three World Cup goals to his name.
RETURN OF MANDZU: While it looks like one star striker will be missing the match, it will mark the return of another. Mario Mandzukic will play in his first World Cup match after skipping the Brazil loss to serve a red card suspension picked up during qualifying. The Bayern Munich player (for now) scored 18 goals in the Bundesliga last season.
COMFORTABLE WITH THE BLAUGRANA: Ivan Rakitic did not have the most influential game against Brazil in the World Cup opener. But the Sevilla man -- he won the Europa League trophy with the Spanish club -- still earned a reported $25 million move to Barcelona which was sealed on Monday.
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) June 16, 2014
THE STAR YOU KNOW
- Mario Mandzukic, forward, Croatia -- The target forward scored two goals for Croatia at the 2012 Euros. Look for him to produce on the big stage once again.
THE PLAYER WHO WILL SURPRISE YOU
- Vincent Aboubakar, forward, Cameroon -- Aboubakar is the likely man to replace Eto’o in the starting XI. The 22-year-old scored 16 goals in Ligue 1 last season for Lorient.