Brazil braces for challenge from revamped Mexico

FORTALEZA, Brazil — A year after his team struggled to beat old rival Mexico in the Confederations Cup, Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is bracing for another tough time when the two sides meet in the World Cup today.

The match comes with both teams having their eyes set on a place in the second round after making winning starts in Group A. With Brazil beating Croatia 3-1 and Mexico edging Cameroon 1-0, the winner will advance to the round of 16 if Cameroon and Croatia draw today in Manaus.

Brazil faces Mexico on Tuesday at noon (TV: ESPN)

Brazil labored to a 2-0 victory in the 2013 warm-up tournament, sealing the victory with a late second goal in a match which was also played in Fortaleza and was also the second game of a group stage.

“We know that it’s never easy when we play Mexico,” Scolari said. “It’s always very even. Brazil’s second goal against them in the Confederations Cup wasn’t scored until late in the second half. It’s always difficult.”

Mexico has won seven of the past 15 matches against the five-time world champion, including two of the past four. And to make it even more challenging for Brazil, Mexico has changed a lot since the teams last faced each other.

“We can’t forget that Mexico’s national team has had three coaches in the last 12 months,” Scolari said. “That means they also changed the way they play. The team that will play here is not the same that played us in the Confederations Cup. It’s going to be a lot different.”

Scolari noted that Mexico has been revamped after Miguel Herrera took over the team in the final stages of World Cup qualifying last year.

“The players will remain with the same characteristics, but their positioning will change with a new coach,” Scolari said.

Herrera took over El Tri after the team struggled in qualifying, but he helped the team advance to the Brazil tournament and was officially named coach in January this year.

“He organized his team very well and he knows how to motivate his players,” said Scolari, who is trying to repeat as champion after leading Brazil to the World Cup title in 2002.

Brazil’s last loss to Mexico came in the final of the 2012 Olympics in London, when the Brazilians — led by Neymar and Oscar — were trying to win the nation’s first gold medal in football.

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