Here’s today’s preview/match thread/discussion post on Brazil 2014. Enjoy the matches!
12 noon ET: Cameroon vs. Mexico, Group A.
Weather: Overcast, temperature in the high 70s, very humid and possibility of rain
Villarreal connections: Giovani dos Santos takes his bow at Brazil 2014. We expect him in the starting XI alongside Oribe Peralta, with Raúl Jiménez and Javier Hernández waiting in the wings. If Gio is on song, this could be a great tournament for El Tri. The flip side, of course, is that a few stellar performances may put him out of reach of the Yellow Submarine.
Javier Aquino was a last-minute injury call-up after a gruesome injury to Luis Montes. In replacing a central midfielder in the squad, Aquino may be called on to play out of position. But odds are that he won’t make much more than a cameo, if things are going well.
Transfer targets: And we’ve of course been linked to more young Mexican players. Keep an eye on Miguel Layún, who has a cannon that he showed off in the pre-tournament friendlies. And Andrés Guardado is our old friend at Valencia.
Cameroon…I’ve got nothing.
Quick preview: Not much can be expected of Cameroon – it’s a team in transition with an international swan song for Samuel Eto’o. But they’ll compete, and climactic conditions may favor them against a team like Croatia. Jean Makoun is the talisman.
México…no clue what you’ll get. Sometimes brilliant, sometimes hapless. They tend to get up for the big occasion but fall a bit short. They will know that three points to start the tournament is key to their chances.
Prediction: Mexico 3-1.
3 pm ET: Spain vs. the Netherlands, Group B.
Weather: Low 80s, 65% humidity, 30-50% chance of rain
Villarreal connections: Santi Cazorla is at the World Cup! This time he didn’t miss out due to injury. The ex-Villarreal legend will not start, but he has been a key change-of-pace substitute for Vicente del Bosque. Expect more of the same in Brazil.
Remember Jonathan de Guzmán? Well of course you do, because Allen just did an excellent feature. The two-year Villarreal loanee has developed at Swansea into a box-to-box midfielder. And Louis van Gaal loves him, so he should start in central midfield against many of his former La Liga rivals. Once and future rivals? I doubt it. Sr. Roig and company will be keeping close tabs – let’s hope it’s a big tournament for the likeable JdeGuz.
Transfer targets: The Dutch have a lot of young talent, but most of it would be out of our price range. Spanish substitute Cesc Fabregas just went from the Barcelona bench to Chelsea for oodles, so that squad is entirely out of the question.
Quick preview: Should be a great match; enough said. Spain has experience but may struggle for goals and in central defense.
The Netherlands – they don’t know how good they can be. But just look at that front three – Sneijder, Robben, and van Persie. Both sides know that a loss in the opener will give Chile a boost.
6 pm ET: Chile vs. Australia, Group B.
Weather: Low 80s, sunny, humidity relatively low (40%)
Villarreal connections: Remember Matías Fernández? That’s Matigol to most of us. He’s been inconsistent at Sporting Lisbon and now Fiorentina but has always been a valuable contributor to the national team. He should see minutes over the course of the tournament.
Transfer targets: We were also once rumored to be in on the immensely talented midfielder Jorge Valdivia and striker Eduardo Vargas – watch for them at this tournament. And the future of Real Sociedad goalkeeper Claudio Bravo may be directly correlated to that of our fan favorite Juan Carlos.
Australia…I’ve got nothing. (Allen says: Tim Cahill is still playing for the Socceroos, and Mile Jedinak (Crystal Palace) is a good midfielder. If Chile loses the ball during one of their suicidal attacks, Jedinak can lead he break and Cahill can get on the end of a cross, maybe they can score).
Quick preview: It’s not the Group of Death, but the top three in Group B should produce three brilliant matches. Chile has given Spain fits, and the Netherlands is a perfect foil for both. Vargas’ form – after disappointing on loan at Valencia – may determine if the South Americans make it out of the group.
Australia is expected to be cannon fodder – another team undergoing a generational transition. They’re not quite ready for primetime I don’t think.
Prediction: Chile 3-0.