World Cup 2014, Brazil v Mexico: Neymar and Co hope to continue spreading the Joy when they visit Fortaleza

The City of Joy hosts the favourites tonight

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The Independent Football

Fortaleza advertises itself as “The City of Joy” and the arrival of the Brazilian team has sparked one long, joyous party all along the waterfront of this seaside city. 

The question was always how well Brazil would take the immense pressure of staging their own World Cup in the most football-obsessed nation on the planet -  and when Croatia took the lead in Sao Paulo, the question mark appeared several feet tall.

The Neymar-inspired recovery allowed the nation to enjoy a World Cup whose sheer, staggering cost had sparked demonstrations that attracted hundreds of thousands. Now they filled the streets of Fortaleza once more, not to demand the money assigned for stadiums be spent on schools and hospitals but to applaud the arrival of the Selecao’s bus. 

Mexico, whom they face at the Castelao tonight, have been described as Brazil’s bogey team on the grounds that they denied them a goal medal at the London Olympics. They have also won a game on Brazilian soil but that was as long ago as 1968 and there has been nothing since. The collective scoreline of their World Cup meetings reads 11-0.


Phil Scolari’s only concern is the fitness of the Zenit St Petersburg striker, Hulk, who has hamstring trouble but otherwise his demand, delivered in Sao Paulo, that Brazil side seize their moment and take the World Cup head on has been met.

Mexico impressed when overcoming Cameroon in Natal rather more than the 1-0 scoreline suggested. Their manager, Miguel Herrera, adopted a 3-5-2 formation which flooded the midfield at the Estadio das Dunas and gave Mexico a width they exploited.

It will be difficult to imagine Brazil resisting as feebly as Cameroon but Fortaleza has been flooded with Mexican fans, who have almost single-handedly kept sombrero production in business in Monterrey and Guadalajara. 

They probably expected that qualification from their group - something Mexico have achieved at the last five tournaments - would come down to the final match against Croatia but the City of Joy offers them a faint hope of something astonishing.