Well this World Cup certainly has had it’s fair share of controversy in the opening 2 matches but the two disallowed goals for Giovani dos Santos did not effect the outcome of this game ultimately and thus this is the last I will mention it. Ultimately a slightly above-average Mexico team beat out an absolutely ineffective Cameroon side and will be glad they came away with 3 points. Oribe Peralta grabbed the all-important goal for the Mexicans.
FORMATION & LINE-UPS
Mexico (5-3-2/ 3-5-2): Ochoa, Aguilar, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun, Herrera, Vazquez, Guardado (Fabian 69’), Dos Santos, Peralta (Hernandez 78’)
Cameroon (4-3-3): Itandje, Djegoue (Nkounoue 45’), Nkoulou, Chedjou, Assou-Ekotto, M’Bia, Song (Webo 75’), Enoh, Moukandjo, Choupo-Moting, Eto’o
Goal: Peralta 61’
Mexico will be pleased the efficiency with which they controlled much of the game and passed the ball around, and ultimately through, Cameroon’s defense. Mexico initially found room on the flanks, especially on the left through Miguel Layun. However, they were unable to make any of this possession count, as many of their crosses were ineffective against a physically superior Cameroon defense.
However, once Mexico found that they could be more effective making runs between the center backs, they immediately exploited it. Several times they went straight through the middle of Cameroon’s defense including dos Santos’ disallowed goal and Peralta’s winner. The through balls proved to be the difference maker in the game.
Lack of pressure on the ball from Cameroon
Cameroon will walk away from this game knowing that they did not do enough to win and although they fashioned a couple of half-chances, they did not do much to throw Mexico off of their game. Despite M’Bia having a solid game in the midfield, Song and Enoh did not hold the ball well. When Mexico had the ball, Cameroon’s 4-3-3 morphed into 2 banks, a back line of 5 and a midfield of 4, with Eto’o staying up top. They invited the pressure from Mexico on to them and rarely stepped up out of their defensive third to press the ball until they were already down a goal.
The inability to break Mexico out of their comfortable style of play cost them the game. Mexico ended with a passing efficiency of 85% as a team and that speaks to the fact that not only were they allowed to pass the ball around but they were also in control for most of the game. Song and Enoh will be held responsible for the lack of physicality and pressure in the middle of the park.
Samuel Eto’o is Cameroon’s most recognizable player but he is a striker and as an out and out number 9, he cannot make things happen out of nothing. He needs service and thrives on creative players behind him creating opportunities, especially as he gets older. Eric Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Moukandjo were playing on the flanks on either side of Eto’o and neither was able to provide a telling cross or pass to the Chelsea striker. This seemed mainly due to the fact that Moukandjo and Choupo-Moting were dropping so deep defensively that when Cameroon did control the ball, it was easier for Assou-Ekotto to overlap offensively and almost all of Cameroon’s chances in the first half came through the QPR man. Without service, Cameroon will have another difficult group stage and they are certainly off to a poor start.
It should be mentioned that despite dominating much of the match, Cameroon did have 13 shots. Eto’o skimmed the woodwork with one chance and Ochoa made a diving stop off a Moukandjo header deep into stoppage time. Mexico will need to be at their very best defensively and they do not look assured there, especially on set pieces. Cameroon created 9 chances in this game, which were actually 3 more than Mexico managed. They are vulnerable on the flanks, especially when Layun and Aguilar push forward. Assou-Ekotto was effective on the left flank for Cameroon and often put Mexico under pressure. His cross that saw Eto’o hit the woodwork should have been dispatched by the experienced striker. Watching the wide play of Neymar or Perisic for Brazil and Croatia respectively should have Miguel Herrera worried a bit.
Giovani dos Santos. Having watched a lot of Mexico in CONCACAF Qualifying, I can say with some certainty that this was his best performance for them in a long time. Even with 2 goals being chalked off, he was Mexico’s most dangerous player in the final third and he should have had an assist when he put Peralta through on Itandje with a very tidy flick in the 48th minute. His shot was saved by Itandje that led to Mexico’s winner from Peralta. Otherwise, he was assured in possession and put in a good shift defensively as well. His tracking back was useful in breaking up Cameroon’s midfield play and allowed Mexico to see this game out. A close second would have been Vazquez at the heart of Mexico’s midfield but his give-away in stoppage time nearly led to a Cameroon equalizer.
WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE THEM
Mexico will clearly be very happy walking away with 3 points in their opening match. However, they still face quite an uphill battle in their group with Cameroon showing they are clearly the weakest side in Group A. Mexico face the hosts Brazil next and having seen Brazil dispatch a very good Croatia side, they will not enjoy the freedom of the park they enjoyed against the Africans.
As for Cameroon, they would have liked to at least get a point off of Mexico and having failed to do that, they can fully expect that their World Cup dream will end in the group stage, barring miracles against Brazil and Croatia.
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