Flag of BrazilFortaleza- Brazil and Mexico kicked-off the second round of the 2014 FIFA World Cup group stages with a 0-0 draw on an evening where Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa stole the show.

Ochoa is a new free-agent after leaving French side Ajaccio upon its relegation to the Ligue 2. Ochoa is linked is linked with multiple potential moves to English Premier League, showed why so many clubs are interested in the 28 year-old Mexican’s signature. 

With an injury to Brazilian power-forward Hulk, Luiz Felipe Scolari was forced into a change and tweaked a few positions in the process too. Ramires won his first stating cap at the World Cup as he started on the right wing, with Neymar playing number 10 and Oscar on the left. These slight changes proved more decisive on the field than on paper.

Brazil looked very rigid and the duo of Ramires and Oscar struggled playing in their less favourable positions. Mexico played a traditional 3-5-2 with their centre backs playing deeper than in their opener against Cameroon. The Mexican wingbacks were also more calculated in choosing the moments to bomb forward.

The clad yellow army that is the Brazilian fan base came with serious intent to support their team as they upped the ante with yet another rousing national anthem that was concluded in acapella. Looking very disjointed and failing to connect multiple passes, Brazil did not seem to threaten the goal often. Mexico as expected was looking to catch the hosts on the break, with their main avenue of attack coming through the middle, off the back of great transition play.

The first half bar two spectacular saves from Guillermo Ochoa seemed very deadlocked with most of the play concentrated in the middle of the park. The second half saw the Mexicans come out with fire, they controlled the opening stages of the half and seemed to have the host on the back foot. Despite the mounting pressure, the hosts limited the Mexicans to long range strikes. In the final quarter of the game, Brazil gained its footing and began playing a bit more decisively. Scolari replaced Fred, Oscar and Ramires who all had sub-standard performances, as the Selecao looked to find the winning goal. Four world class saves form Ochoa, including a header from Brazilian skipper Thiago Silva earned the Mexicans a draw, as he scooped up the man of the match award.

Questions have been raised about the host nations strike force, with Jo and Fred being the only two out-and-out strikers. Tuesdays game gave us the first insight as to how this lack of a lethal finisher could be a thorn in Brazils side. Neymar, the prince of the nation, at 22, was turned too by many players and most fans alike to try and produce some magic that would hand the hosts three points and guarantee a place in the round of 16. Mexico has raised the first questions as to whether Brazil can lift the trophy in its back yard, if they are to do so, they will need Neymar to be at his best. Will the prince become a king?

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