Mexico opens World Cup with deserved win over Cameroon

Published Friday, June 13, 2014 1:38 PM by Patrick Nuss
Mexico opens World Cup with deserved win over Cameroon

The second match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup saw group A underdogs Cameroon and Mexico face off against each other. Each team knew that the loser of this match would surely not advance into the knockout stage of the World Cup, so although it was their first game, it was extremely important. Mexico lined up in their typical 5-3-2, with their wingbacks pushing up and down the field, and Cameroon in a 4-3-3. Which side would take the three points?
 
You could sense the importance Mexico placed on this match right from the opening kickoff.  After watching Brazil beat Croatia the day before and seeing an impressive display from Croatia only ruined by a referee.  El Tri knew Cameroon was a must three points.   And come out flying they did!  Racing down the flanks.  Dominating possession.  Cameroon were on the back foot from the opening whistle as Mexico were encouraged by a bustling supportive crowd.
               
It started off with a very positive Mexican side. As usual, Mexico got down the flanks early and often with Layun and Aguilar, of whom managed to get a few threatening balls into the box. This clearly rattled the Cameroon defense, who obviously were not as ready to start as the Mexicans. Several mistakes almost cost the Cameroons early, including a back header that managed to slip through the defense and was ran onto by Peralta, but was judged offside.

In the 11th minute was when more drama began. We have already seen awful calls by the referees in yesterday’s match, which arguably cost Croatia 3 points, and this game began with a call not at all that different. A fantastic ball by Hector Herrera from the right side of the field found Giovani Dos Santos, who freed himself from his marker and thumped the ball into the back of the net. This was ruled offside by the linesman. However, replays revealed that Dos Santos was even, and the goal should have counted. Cameroon soon after scored on the other end after Mexico failed to clear a corner kick, but it was also ruled back after a far more obvious offside.

There were a few other chances in the first half, of which included Eto’o smacking a ball off the side of the post after a brilliant play by Benoit Assou-Ekotto, and another Dos Santos disallowed goal, this time from a corner, in which he was ruled offside after the kick took a deflection. Very tight decision, but I feel like the call was correct.

At the end of the half, Dos Santos was brought down at the end of the box by a defender, but the ref said there was nothing there. Perhaps he was hesitant to call the foul after seeing the inexcusable mistake by the referee yesterday. In all fairness, though, the official’s view was blocked by the players, and Dos Santos was heading well away from goal.

The entire half consisted of the typical Mexican weakness of not being able to defend set pieces, and Cameroon’s lack thereof, as well, but neither was able to capitalize.

The second half started fast, with Dos Santos slipping in Peralta, who was then stoned by the Cameroonian keeper, who was quick off his line. Cameroon then countered 10 minutes later with Mbia found himself 1 on 1 with Moreno, the last defender. Moreno, who was nursing a hamstring injury the majority of the game, had no choice but to bring him down, which resulted in a yellow card and a Cameroon free kick from dead center, 25 yards out. Assou-Ekotto elected to take the kick, which hit the wall, and then came dangerously close to wrong footing Ochoa, before going inches wide.

The breakthrough came in the 61st minute, when Gio Dos Santos, who looked deadly all game, was slipped through on goal, but was denied well by the keeper. This left a fat rebound for Oribe Peralta roll home, and it was the simplest of finishes to put the Mexican’s in front… 1-0.

The rest of the game was mainly uneventful until the dying moments. Chicharito came on for the goal scorer, Peralta, and Webo, a striker, came on for defensive mid Alex Song.

An Assou-Ekotto cross was met by Moukandjo, but the attempt was acrobatically caught by Ochoa. This was then followed up by a glorious chance for Mexico to go 2 goals in front. Layun did well to win a ball in the Cameroonian corner and found Chicharito all alone in front of goal, but made life difficult for the striker by driving a knee high ball across the box, which Chicharito skied over the bar, who was visibly frustrated by the pass. A better ball and it was a simple finish for the forward. The game then ended, with Mexico getting the points, and putting themselves level with the favorites, Brazil.
               
This game revealed a few things for the millions of viewers watching the game around the world. One, Cameroon, lacks creativity in the attack, and will struggle to score goals in their next two matches. Two, Mexico is still awful on set piece defense. Numerous balls were crossed in from corners and free kicks, which were not dealt with by the Red and Green. Luckily for them, no Cameroon attacker managed to get on the end of one. That will, however, be an issue when they face the likes of Danny Lovren from Croatia, and David Luiz and Paulinho from Brazil. Three, the Mexican attack, if Giovani Dos Santos keeps his form up, will be difficult to stop, especially since Brazil struggles to defend the cross and finish, and that is what Mexico loves to do.

Group A is shaping up to be very interesting, with Brazil not performing as impressively as some would have expected, Mexico claiming a vital three points, and Croatia deserving a result against the hosts, but were effectively defeated by the officials. This leads one to believe that any of these teams could claim the group, and the game between Croatia and Mexico more than likely being win or go home for both sides. As well as that, Cameroon, aside from a miracle, will surely be packing their bags and heading home after their next two matches.