Mexico v Cameroon

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Aguilar; Guardado, Herrera, Vazquez; Dos Santos, Peralta.
Cameroon: Itandje; Assou-Ekotto, Nkoulou, Mbia, Chedjou; Djeugoue, Enoh Song; Moukandjo, Choupo Moting; Eto’o.

Ref : Wilmar Roldan Perez (Colombia)
Att : 39216

Story of the Match 

  • Oribe Peralta put Mexico in front in Natal with a goal in the 61st minute
  • Giovani dos Santos had early goal for Mexico disallowed due to offside
  • He then had ANOTHER goal disallowed after scoring header from corner
  • Javier Hernandez started on the bench for Mexico

Mexico have beaten Cameroon 1-0 in a rain-drenched Natal but the World Cup match was once again scarred by more refereeing blunders. Mexico enjoyed greater possession, and had to overcome the frustration of two disallowed first-half goals, a stubborn opponent and torrential rain to earn three vital points in Group A.The rain was relentless, descending in thick sheets to turn this city’s glistening new soccer stadium into an overstuffed water park.

Many in the stands did not seem to mind. The crowd was crammed with expectant Mexico supporters, who had traveled to Natal in huge numbers and were percolating in team colors through the city’s beachside pubs and restaurants during the week. Cameroonian midfielder Eyong Enoh said it felt like the game was taking place in Mexico, and the play reflected that. Fans yelled “Olé!” as Mexico tapped the ball around the sodden field. Mexico’s wingbacks, Layún and Paul Aguilar, took advantage of the considerable space Cameroon’s defense conceded to them. In Miguel Herrera’s system, the two essentially become attacking midfielders in transition. Cameroon, save for a brief bright stretch midway through the first half and a few desperate runs in the final minutes, looked toothless.

Cameroon have now lost five #WorldCup games in a row, the longest ever losing streak by an African team. Gloom.

Oribe Peralta grabbed the only goal after 61 minutes but Mexico will consider themselves unlucky not to have been more comfortable winners after Giovani Dos Santos had two goals ruled out for dubious offside decisions in the first-half.

In the 11th minute, the Villarreal player found the target with a sweet, stabbed volley from a cross by Porto’s Hector Herrara but his effort was ruled out for being offside.  On the 30-minute mark, a Dos Santos header from a corner by Miguel Layun was also not allowed to stand. In between, Cameroon skipper Samuel Eto’o had a goal chalked off for offside, although this time the referee made the right decision.

The blunders came just a day after Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura controversially awarded a penalty which set Brazil on their way to a 3-1 win over Croatia.

The one thing to worry about for Mexico is the two blown offside calls. Goal differential could easily be a factor in Group A.

Peralta deservedly put Mexico in front just after the hour mark. Dos Santos’s shot was parried into his path and the Club Santos Laguna striker slotted in from close range.

Cameroon’s Benjamin Moukandjo had a chance to rescue a point in injury time but his header was well-saved by Guillermo Ochoa.

As it Happened.

  • 11′  Kitchen Sink Or Caution?
  • 30′  Dos Santos Penalized Again
  • 45+2  Halftime: Cameroon-Mexico 0-0
  • 61′  The Brush Sweeps Home
  • 71′  Mexico In Command
  • 81′  Chicharito Struts His Stuff
  • 90+4  Full Time

It was the team’s best performance under Herrera, who was named as coach late last year, and a hugely important win for the players, who want to put the embarrassment of their erratic qualification campaign behind them and advance this summer to what their fans often refer to as the World Cup’s “fifth game.” In each of the past five World Cups, the team has been eliminated after four games, in the Round of 16, creating a frustrating pattern.

Mexico will now play host nation Brazil on June 17 in Fortaleza, while Cameroon will travel to Manaus to play Croatia June 18.

And the Oscar goes too…

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If one player is a poster boy for this world cup, then that player is Neymar. The man at the centre of a controversial transfer to Barcelona last summer did not exactly pull up trees in his first season in La Liga. However, his record for his country (33 goals in 50 caps including last night’s game) is staggering. It is all the more impressive when you consider he is only 22 years of age and is indeed the youngest Brazilian to reach 50 international caps. It is little wonder then that he carries the hopes of 200 millions fans squarely on his shoulders. However, despite his two goals last night Neymar was by no means the star of the show. On the right hand side, Oscar’s performance was breathtaking. Frozen out at Chelsea by Mourinho at the end of last season, the young midfielder appeared invigorated last night. His constant energy was a thorn in the side of Croatia left back Vrsaljko. His trickery was mesmerising and some of his crosses were perfectly placed (David Luiz failed to do justice to one such moment of magic late in the second half). His goal at the end, an instinctive toe poke from outside the box was a just reward for an enterprising performance.

Neymar will doubtless steal plenty of headlines throughout this tournament but the early honours go to Oscar.

Brazil 3 – 1 Croatia

Brazil: Cesar; Alves, Silva, Luiz, Marcelo; Paulinho, Gustavo; Hulk, Oscar, Neymar; Fred. Croatia: Pletikosa; Srna, Corluka, Lovren, Vrsaijko; Kovacic, Modric; Rakitic, Perisic, Olic; Jelavic.

Ref: Yuichi Nishimura
Att: 62,103

Story of the match:

  • Neymar scores twice for hosts
  • Croatia angry at penalty decision
  • Oscar also on target for Brazil
  • Vanishing spray and goal-line technology used for first time at World Cup

Brazil are off and running.

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — It was Dia dos Namorados on Thursday, the Brazilian equivalent of Valentine’s Day, which meant there were chocolates and flowers and couples holding hands tucked among the sea of yellow jerseys that stretched from the Itaquera neighborhood over to Jardins. From sunrise all the way until the shimmering moon peeked above the skyline, Brazilians showed their passion for one another, and for soccer, as the World Cup began.

But love — in any form — is a complicated matter. While there were moments of heat and adoration, particularly when Neymar scored the first of his two goals with a shot that bounced in off the post, Brazil’s 3-1 victory over Croatia hardly made for the perfect date. Inside and outside Arena Corinthians, emotions were mixed even before a referee’s decision in favor of Brazil plunged the tournament into controversy in the first game.

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I’m feeling rather sorry for Croatia who were quite hard done by. Neymar should have been sent off before both goals for a high elbow, a soft soft Peno, and perhaps an equaliser unfairly disallowed.

As it Happened.

  • 11′  It Was An Auto-Gol!
  • 26′ Reeee -nope YELLOW card
  • 29′ GOAAAALL NEYMARR
  • 69′  Penalty To Brazil! Brazil Leads 2-1!
  • 84′  No Goal
  • 92′  Gooooooooooool Brazil!

The moments before kick-off had been typically rousing. A passionate Brazilian crowd delivered another fervent rendition of the national anthem. Croatia were no more than an afterthought to most outside the thousand travelling fans.

Brazil actually fell behind early when Marcelo turned the ball into his own net in the 11th minute, after Ivica Olic had sprinted down the left side and sent a dangerous cross in front of the goal.

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Marcelo, who was retreating, basically ran the ball into his own net. Most in the announced crowd of 62,103 stood in stunned silence and then began booing and whistling angrily, having witnessed Brazil’s first own goal in World Cup history.

But when they needed a moment of magic, the man whose image had been splashed across every newspaper and TV station in Brazil provided it. Chelsea midfielder Oscar fought through two challenges and found Neymar. When the striker turned for goal, moving the ball on to his left foot, he had one thing in mind. The contact was not pure but the shot was unerringly accurate, creeping in from 25 yards, glancing the right post on its way.

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 50 Games 32 Goals And now Brazils 8th highest top scorer..

And he’s just 22 years old

Neymar pressed “rb” + “b” on that shot. Smart move. #fifa #fineseshot #BRAvsCRO

His second, 19 minutes before the end, was altogether more controversial. Dejan Lovren was judged to have fouled Fred in the box. Japanese referee Yuichi Nishimura pointed to the spot, despite replays showing little contact had been made. Neymar converted, the ball deflecting in off the out-stretched arm of goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, to spark scenes of celebration. article-2656644-1EB7355200000578-114_634x624

Lol Neymar didn’t have the bottle to try an Abdoun #pussy #AbdounTheGreat #NottinghamForestJoke

Oscar put a gloss on the final score with a tremendous late goal that his man-of-the-match performance warranted. With Croatia committed upfield, he burst forward and toe-poked in from 25 yards, taking Pletikosa by surprise with a low drive.

It ensured a 10th consecutive win for Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side but Brazil demonstrated flaws and fragilities. They did not play with the fluency or flamboyance that saw them swat aside Spain to win the Confederations Cup so emphatically last year. I still stand by my prediction that both these two sides will progress to the next round, but Brazil are going to have to play much better if they want to win the World Cup.

Man of the Match

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The Referee – Great influence in helping Brazil claim victory and excellent spray paint work! 10/10

Cameroon Team Preview

The Players

Loïc Feudjou goalkeeper, Coton Sport

Benoît Assou-Ekotto defender, Queens Park Rangers

Nicolas N’Koulou defender, Marseille

Cédric Djeugoué defender, Coton Sport

Dany Nounkeu defender, Besiktas

Alex Song midfielder, Barcelona

Landry N’Guémo midfielder, Bordeaux

Benjamin Moukandjo forward, Nancy

Samuel Eto’o (captain) forward, Chelsea

10 Vincent Aboubakar forward, Lorient

11 Jean Makoun midfielder, Rennes

12 Henri Bedimo defender, Lyon

13 Maxim Choupo-Moting forward, Mainz

14 Aurélien Chedjou defender, Galatasaray

15 Pierre Webó forward, Fenerbahçe

16 Charles Itandje goalkeeper, Konyaspor

17 Stéphane Mbia midfielder, Sevilla

18 Eyong Enoh midfielder, Antalyaspor

19 Fabrice Olinga forward, Zulte Waregem

20 Edgar Salli midfielder, Lens

21 Joël Matip midfielder, Schalke

22 Allan Nyom defender, Granada

23 Sammy N’Djock goalkeeper, Fethiyespor

Star man

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Samuel Eto’o, the four-times Africa footballer of the year, is one of the world’s finest strikers there has ever been and is likely to be an enormous influence in Brazil, perhaps even a negative one. His speed may be dwindling and the clock may be ticking at 33-years-old but supporters insist his experience remains invaluable, while detractors say he is only in the team to avoid unseemly fuss. Should be well rested after season on Chelsea bench.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
Midfielder Alex Song was disciplined by the Cameroonian FA for refusing to shake his captain Eto’o’s hand but is not alone in the Cameroon awkward squad.

The coach

After a career spent mostly with lower-league outfits in his native Germany, Volker Finke initial results were so poor that Roger Milla called for him to be sacked on grounds of “incompetence”. Milla changed his tune slightly after qualifying but still insisted that the manager needed local help to understand the importance of football to Cameroonians. The country’s FA then nominated four “technicians” to advise Finke on the cooking of the national broth. A recipe for disaster?

Grudge match

Cameroon will for ever be part of World Cup folklore owing to their shock victory over holders Argentina in 1990, Milla’s corner-flag jigs and their participation in that rarest of occurrences: a quarter-final victory for England. But there is plenty of local rivalry to stir the Indomitable Lions. Three of Cameroon’s west-Africa neighbours will also be in Brazil and each is eager to advance their claims of being the continent’s greatest ambassadors. Humbling the former colonial power, France, would also be satisfying.

Holed up

According to manager Finke, their base in Vitória was chosen on the advice of “some of the best doctors in Germany”. Presumably their medical knowledge helped them to discern that it is very close to the venue of Cameroon’s first game against Mexico in Natal.

How they qualified
Made a meal of easy qualifying group (Libya, Congo Dr, Togo) but got their act together to beat Tunisia in play-off.

World Cup high
1990, the time of Roger Milla and for many the announcement of African football on the world stage.

World Cup low
1998, in which they had three red cards, as well as two goals disallowed against Chile in first round exit.

Familiar faces
Benoît Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur), Stephane Mbia (QPR), Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea).

Title odds
500/1

The stereotype is …
Marvellous natural athletes who play with a smile on their face, Clive, but they are naive at the back.

The reality is …
Decent defence – only let in three in qualifying group – and an experienced midfield but lacking options up front. Cliques in squad.

What they’re known for
Roger Milla 100 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
O Cameroon cradle of our ancestors, go up and jealous of your freedom

Duration
A punchy 50 seconds, heavy on the trumpets.

How to dress like their fans

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Get your top off and get yourself painted red, green and gold. Among the tournament’s most paint-friendly fans.

Commentator’s go-to stat
This is the Indomitable Lions’ seventh appearance at the World Cup, an African record.

Mexico Team Preview

The Players

José de Jesús Corona goalkeeper, Cruz Azul

Francisco Rodríguez defender, Club América

Carlos Salcido defender, Tigres UANL

Rafael Márquez (captain) defender, León

Diego Reyes defender, Porto

Héctor Herrera midfielder, Porto

Miguel Layún defender, América

Marco Fabián midfielder, Cruz Azul

Raúl Jiménez forward, América

10 Giovani dos Santos forward, Villarreal

11 Alan Pulido forward, Tigres UANL

12 Alfredo Talavera goalkeeper, Toluca

13 Guillermo Ochoa goalkeeper, Ajaccio

14 Javier Hernández forward, Manchester United

15 Héctor Moreno defender, Espanyol

16 Miguel Ángel Ponce defender, Toluca

17 Isaác Brizuela midfielder, Toluca

18 Andrés Guardado defender, Bayer Leverkusen

19 Oribe Peralta forward, Santos Laguna

20 Javier Aquino midfielder, Villarreal

21 Carlos Peña midfielder, León

22 Paul Aguilar defender, América

23 José Juan Vázquez midfielder, León

Star man

Oribe Peralta, of América in his homeland, has scored 10 times in his past 10 outings for El Tri. He weighed in with five of Mexico’s goals in the 9-3 aggregate play-off victory over New Zealand that booked their ticket to Brazil. The hosts will not look forward to meeting up with the 30-year-old striker again: Peralta’s two goals won the 2012 Olympic final for Mexico, and ensured Brazil still have a five-ring-shaped hole on their CV.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace…
Tensions between European and home-based players may cause friction in the camp so take your pick as to which one of the big names will throw their toys out of the pram first, especially if they’re not being selected.
Carlos Vela, whose continued refusal to accept a call-up severely weakens a squad not blessed with quality. The 25-year-old, formerly of Arsenal, has been in form for Real Sociedad, to the point where Liverpool are now sniffing around. “He’d be no use to us anyway because he’s not focused on the job,” sniffs coach Miguel Herrera.

The coach

Miguel Herrera took over in October following the disastrous qualifying campaign where, at one stage, they went through three managers in three games. Herrera eased his way into the job with a 9-3 aggregate win over New Zealand.

Grudge match

Mexico have the historical upper hand over neighbours the United States, though the balance of power has been shifting in recent years, with the US beginning to take soccer more seriously. USA won the only match between the two sides at a World Cup finals, a 2-0 success in 2002, and Mexico still have not quite got over it.

Holed up

Mexico will pitch camp in Santos, in the south of Brazil. They had better soak up plenty of that old Pelé energy, for all of their group games are taking place in the north-east.

How they qualified
Needed a play-off win over New Zealand to reach the finals after a shambolic campaign where they won only twice in 10 games in their group, missing out on an automatic passage to Brazil.

World Cup high
Hosting the World Cup in 1970 and 1986 was pretty special but Fernando Quirarte’s header in their opening game in Azteca in ’86 unleashed an outpouring of emotion from a country still coming to terms with the previous year’s earthquake which caused the deaths of over 10,000 people. His celebration tells the whole story.

World Cup low
Defeat on penalties to West Germany in the quarter-final in ’86. Those damn Germans and their penalties.

Familiar faces
Javier Hernández (Manchester United).

Title odds: 100/1

The stereotype is…
Lightning quick, highly volatile football. Plenty of spectacular goals and sendings off.

The reality is…
They would like to live up to their reputation – they just may not be good enough. Still, you can always kick people.

What they’re known for
Tequila 30 per cent
The Three Amigos 45 per cent
Ponchos 12 per cent
Tacos 8 per cent
Mariachi bands 5 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
Fatherland! Fatherland! Your children swear to you to breathe their last for your sake, if the bugle with its bellicose accent calls them together to battle with courage.

How long does it last?
A short, sharp and sweet 90 seconds.

How to dress like their fans

South_Africa_Soccer_WCup_France_Mexico_t400
For men: sombreros, face-paint, Mexican wrestling masks. For women: often not an awful lot.

Commentator’s go-to stat
Mexico have qualified for every World Cup since 1982, except for 1990 when they were banned. They went through four managers just to get to Brazil.

Croatia Team Preview

The players

Stipe Pletikosa goalkeeper, Rostov

Sime Vrsaljko defender, Genoa

Danijel Pranjic defender, Panathinaikos

Ivan Perisic midfielder, Wolfsburg

Vedran Corluka defender, Lokomotiv Moscow

Dejan Lovren defender, Southampton

Ivan Rakitic midfielder, Sevilla

Ognjen Vukojevic midfielder, Dynamo Kyiv

Nikica Jelavic forward, Hull City

10 Luka Modric midfielder, Real Madrid

11 Darijo Srna (captain) defender, Shakhtar Donetsk

12 Oliver Zelenika goalkeeper, Lokomotiva Zagreb

13 Gordon Schildenfeld defender, Panathinaikos

14 Marcelo Brozovic midfielder, Dinamo Zagreb

15 Ivan Mocinic midfielder, Rijeka

16 Ante Rebic forward, Fiorentina

17 Mario Mandzukic forward, Bayern Munich

18 Ivica Olic forward, Wolfsburg

19 Sammir midfielder, Getafe

20 Mateo Kovacic midfielder, Internazionale

21 Domagoj Vida defender, Dynamo Kyiv

22 Eduardo forward, Shakhtar Donetsk

23 Danijel Subasic goalkeeper, Monaco

Star man

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Mario Mandzukic scored 33% of Croatia’s goals in qualifying and the rangy Bayern Munich striker is crucial to a team whose other attacking options include the 34-year-old Ivica Olic, the Hull striker Nikica Jelavic and the former Arsenal forward Eduardo, who has flitted in and out of the Shakhtar Donetsk team this season. Sadly Mandzukic, sent off in the play-off win over Iceland, will be suspended for the opener against Brazil.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
Josip Simunic. Fined for an offensive salute after the play-off last month. Throw in the odd studs-up challenge and you have a player with one foot in the departure lounge.

The coach

A no-nonsense, blood-and-guts defensive midfielder who captained Croatia at the 2006 finals and broke his nose so often he admitted he had “stopped counting”, Niko Kovac has been described by Niko Kranjcar as “always a leader, on and off the pitch”. However the 42-year-old has little on his managerial CV besides a spell with the Under-21s and as an assistant at Salzburg.

Grudge match

Croatia’s greatest rivalry is with Serbia, an enmity born before the break-up of Yugoslavia. The two nations met for the first time in qualifying, with relations not helped by the then managers’ shared hatred – Croatia’s Igor Stimac had once told his opposite number, Sinisa Mihajlovic, that “I pray to God your whole family gets murdered”; Mihajlovic, meanwhile, had once identified Stimac as “the only person I could strangle with my bare hands”. Perhaps fortunately, both had left their posts within weeks of their second meeting.

Holed up

The Tivoli Ecoresort in Praia do Forte offers guaranteed luxury and serenity. This will be particularly welcome for veterans of the 2006 World Cup, when the peace and quiet of their base in Bad Brückenau was interrupted in the middle of the group stages by a concert played within yards of their luxury verandahs by British hard rockers Uriah Heep and Deep Purple.

How they qualified
Steamrollered by Belgium in qualifying, but recovered to put Iceland out in a two-legged play-off.

World Cup high
Their first World Cup remains their best effort, getting to the semi-finals in 1998 after putting out Germany.

World Cup low
Losing twice to England whilst failing to qualify in 2010. Or perhaps losing twice to Scotland this time round.

Familiar faces
Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Nikica Jelavić (Hull City).

Title odds: 150/1

The stereotype is …
Cultured midfielders, rampaging wingbacks and gifted forwards with a touch of genius to them.

The reality is …
A team that should be a lot more interesting than they actually are. Mandzukic the attacking spearhead and Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic swarming behind him.

What are they known for?
Rocky outcrops 44 per cent
The golden generation 30 per cent
Cheap package holidays 23 per cent
Adrian Chiles 3 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
Mila, much as you are a celebrity, You are dear to us only, Honey, where you are straight, Honey, where are you mountains!

Duration
A larynx-straining 14 verses, although only four are usually sung.

How to dress like their fans

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Find your nearest greasy spoon café and nick all the red-and-white chequered tablecloths.

Commentator’s go-to stat
The first country to recognise Croatia’s independence in 1991 was Iceland. Who Croatia have just knocked out in a play-off. There’s gratitude for you.

Brazil Team Preview

The players

Jefferson goalkeeper, Botafogo

Dani Alves defender, Barcelona

Thiago Silva (captain) defender, Paris Saint-Germain

David Luiz defender, Chelsea

Fernandinho midfielder, Manchester City

Marcelo defender, Real Madrid

Hulk forward, Zenit Saint Petersburg

Paulinho midfielder, Tottenham Hotspur

Fred forward, Fluminense

10 Neymar forward, Barcelona

11 Oscar midfielder, Chelsea

12 Júlio César goalkeeper, Toronto

13 Dante defender, Bayern Munich

14 Maxwell defender, Paris Saint-Germain

15 Henrique defender, Napoli

16 Ramires midfielder, Chelsea

17 Luiz Gustavo midfielder, Wolfsburg

18 Hernanes midfielder, Internazionale

19 Willian midfielder, Chelsea

20 Bernard midfielder, Shakhtar Donetsk

21  forward, Atlético Mineiro

22 Victor goalkeeper, Atlético Mineiro

23 Maicon defender, Roma

Star man

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Neymar, a genuinely classy instinctive creative attacker, and a player who carries on his shoulders a horrible pressure not just as Brazil’s most effective attacker by some distance, but as sole keeper of the flame of the old malandro spirit. Really Brazil’s strength lies in a mobile, technically adept midfield and classy ball-playing defence. But it will still be Neymar in extreme close up when the tournament begins, a player under more pressure than any other at any previous World Cup not just to win games, but to win games the right way too.

Most likely to be sent home in disgrace
Being both dirty and an inveterate diver, Dani Alves is a true master of football’s darker arts.

The coach

Big, loveable, flinty-eyed, 65-year-old Phil was something of a port in a storm in 2012 for a Brazilian FA spooked by the raggedness of its team under Mano Menezes and the impending all-or-nothing bid to win La Hexa on home soil. Scolari has duly remodelled along pragmatic lines, defeating Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup, performing his usual tough guy histrionics on the touchline, enforcing the usual pre-tournament sex ban among his players (“usually normal sex is done in a balanced way but some like to perform acrobatics. We will put limits and survey the players”) and generally raised the spirits. Likely to be the only coach at the tournament with his own travelling shrine of porcelain saints.

Grudge match

The obvious one: Argentina, the battle of the South Americas between two nations who share an 800-mile border, the two best World Cup players of all time and a continuing sense of vitriol. The less obvious ones: the rest of South America, Italy (fond foes) and, maybe, somewhere near the back of the queue, England.

Holed up

Brazil have always been the masters of fine-point preparations, kings of sport science and training camps. The Brazilian FA training centre at Granja Comary in Rio State is a verdant, splendidly isolated luxury compound that looks like it might make a good place to train a race of teenage superhero warriors or a squadron of X-men.

How they qualified
Apparently there’s some football tournament or something going on in Brazil.

World Cup High
Winners in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002, but it is the 1970 triumph that inspires the most impassioned tributes.

World Cup low
The sad spectacle of an unwell Ronaldo and his team being rolled over 3-0 by France in the 1998 final.

Familiar faces
Julio Cesar (QPR), David Luiz (Chelsea), Oscar (Chelsea), Ramires (Chelsea), Paulinho (Spurs), Willian (Chelsea), Fernandinho (Manchester City)

Title odds
7/2 fav

The stereotype is …
Samba football, silky skills,dreamy, free-flowing, barefoot fantasy of kicks set to a Sérgio Mendes soundtrack,  genius all over the pitch, playing the game as it should be played.

The reality is …
A physical presence in midfield, a ball-playing back four that’s a bit iffy, high-energy pressing and Neymar scoring the goals. Scolari has tended to go for the fashionable 4-2-3-1, with traditional overlapping full-backs in Dani Alves and Marcelo. Oscar, Hulk and Neymar will support either Fred or Jô, who sound like a pair of plasterers, but who will attempt to carry on a glorious World Cup centre-forward lineage.

What they’re known for
Football 45 per cent
Samba 25 per cent
Thonged lovelies 20 per cent
Civil unrest 10 per cent

How Google translates the national anthem
In thy bosom, O freedom, Our chest defy death itself.
Our forests have more life. Our life in your more love sinus.

Duration
A busy, frothy 1min 58sec.

How to dress like their fans

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Better get in that gym first. Bikinis for the ladies. Washboard stomachs for the gents. Fake Tan.

Commentator’s go-to stat
Brazil covers three time zones. No doubt failure to acclimatise to jet lag will be offered as a mitigating factor in England’s disappointing performance.