There are two things to consider when you survey Brazil’s final group stage match against Cameroon; Brazil need to win to be assured of finishing first, and Cameroon have already been eliminated and have nothing to play for apart from pride. While ending your tournament on a high note and screwing over someone in your group is always a good way to bow out of a tournament, should anyone really expect much from a Cameroon side that has yet to score this summer while surrendering five to their opposition? This could not be a more perfect time for Brazil to play them.
As usual, but for unknown reasons, Cameroon failed to give a good account of themselves at yet another World Cup. Failing to impress on the pitch is one thing, but scenes during the match against Croatia that saw Alex Song receive a straight red for virtually assaulting someone, and Benoit Assou-Ekotto head-butting his own teammate, they owe to their country to represent them in a fashion befitting their pride – what better way to do so than to have a hand in Brazil’s destiny this summer. Here is our preview and prediction.
Projected Starting XI’s
Brazil: Julio Cesar; Marcelo, David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dani Alves; Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo; Oscar; Neymar, Fred, Hulk
Cameroon: Charles Itandje; Henri Bedimo, Nicolas N’Koulou, Aurelien Chedjou, Allen Nyom; Stephane Mbia, Joel Matip, Eyong Enoh; Vincent Aboubakar, Samuel Eto’o, Maxim Choupo-Moting
Key’s for Brazil:
– Get Neymar on the ball at every single opportunity. His ability to take players on and, against a Cameroon side that foul more than necessary, will net Brazil plenty of set-piece chances from dangerous areas that they are sure to capitalize on.
– Put Itandje under pressure. He is not a bad keeper by any stretch of the imagination, but the problem for Cameroon comes by way of their back line not having solid awareness in the box on lose balls. If you force a ton of saves out of Itandje, that surly will present chances for Fred and Hulk to capitalize from close range.
– Do not leave too much space in behind Marcelo and Dani Alves. Yes Cameroon have yet to score at this World Cup, but they came up against Mexico and Croatia, who do not allow their full-backs to rampage forward with every chance. If there is space to be exploited, the likes of Moting, Aboubakar and Moukandjo could well capitalize on it.
Key’s for Cameroon:
– Avoid getting into foul trouble. Despite the obvious issues with giving Brazil too many set pieces, they will want to avoid losing their ability to defend aggressively if they end up taking too many bookings. Being aggressive against Brazil often puts them off their game, and that is an ability they need to retain if they are to not get embarrassed.
– Most importantly of all; play with pride and passion. This has been yet another disappointing summer for them, and they owe it to themselves, their fans and their country that they bow out with grace, style and class.
– Neymar v Cameroon’s defense – He’ll pop up in multiple areas over the course of the match as he looks to find room to operate efficiently. Cameroon’s back-line must keep their shape and defend in numbers when able if they are to keep the Brazilian wunderkind quiet.
– Choupo-Moting v Marcelo – The difference between Marcelo and Dani Alves, is that Dani Alves is better at tracking back on defense, where as Marcelo struggles in that regard. If Choupo-Moting can find space in behind him, he may well be able to fashion a chance or two for Cameroon.
– M’Bia v Oscar – Apart from the creative ability of Neymar, so many often forget about Oscar and that is something you simply cannot do. M’Bia is a very good holding player, who is athletic and quick despite his size, so it will be up to him to keep track of Oscar so he does not fall off the Cameroonian radar.
This is really a no brainer. Brazil, in front of their home support and needing a win to guarantee they avoid the Netherlands in the round of 16, you’d bet your house that they’ll win this one. Cameroon do have attacking players with pace in whatever XI start, but on the whole they will not be able to keep the Brazilian juggernaut quiet tonight. 3-0 Brazil is my prediction.