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Match Previews

World Cup 2014 Group A Preview

4 June 2014

By Rhys Griffiths

As the excitement builds ahead of the start of the World Cup on 12th June we're looking ahead at what lies in wait in each of the eight groups. We start with Group A, which contains hosts Brazil.

Brazil

The script is written. Now it's just down to the players wearing that famous yellow jersey to deliver the result that the football-mad people of Brazil demand: a record sixth World Cup victory sealed on home turf. At last year's Confederations Cup, the dress rehearsal for this summer's World Cup, the hosts defeated Spain 3-0 and signalled their intent to rule the world in 2014. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari will hope to mix flair with pragmatism as the Selecao - spearheaded by Barcelona's Neymar - look to ease the pain still felt at the loss of the World Cup to Uruguay in Rio back in 1950.

Croatia

Croatia appeared at the World Cup for the first time in 1998 and set the tournament in France alight, finishing third and seeing their all-time top goalscorer Davor Suker win the Golden Boot as the competition's top scorer. And while their team of 2014 may lack the depth of quality to be found in that 1990s side, there is still plenty of talent in the squad manager Niko Kovac has put together. Both striker Nikica Jelavic and midfielder Luka Modric will be familiar to English fans, while Bayern Munich forward Mario Mandzukic - although suspended for the opener against Brazil - will look to provide the firepower to see his side through the group.

Mexico

Mexico have twice reached the quarter finals, in 1970 and 1986 when the World Cup was played on home soil, but in more recent times they have failed to make any serious impact on the latter stages of the tournament. Many observers feel it is tough to accurately predict the line-up coach Miguel Herrera will send out in Brazil following a turbulent qualifying campaign, but it is likely he will look to the likes of Oribe Peralta and Manchester United's Javier Hernandez up front to get the team firing.

Cameroon

Cameroon have been famous trailblazers for African football at the World Cup, with this summer's competition in Brazil set to be their seventh appearance at the tournament, but since they were eliminated in the quarter-finals of Italia '90 by England they have struggled to have much success on this biggest of stages. Veteran leader Samuel Eto'o, coming off the back of a 12-goal season with Chelsea, will be a pivotal figure in the squad assembled by coach Volker Finke, as much for his many years of experience at the top of the game as for the threat he poses in front of goal.

Group A Fixtures (all times UK)

June 12th, 21:00: Brazil v Croatia - Arena de S?o Paulo, S?o Paulo
June 13th, 17:00: Mexico v Cameroon - Arena das Dunas, Natal
June 17th, 20:00: Brazil v Mexico - Est?dio Castel?o, Fortaleza
June 18th, 23:00: Cameroon v Croatia - Arena Amaz?nia, Manaus
June 23rd, 21:00: Cameroon v Brazil - Est?dio Nacional Man? Garrincha, Bras?lia
June 23rd, 21:00: Croatia v Mexico - Arena Pernambuco, Recife


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