World Cup 2014: Mexico impressed in victory over Cameroon, and their 3-5-2 formation could cause Brazil problems

Mexico join Brazil at the top of Group A after opening win

The received wisdom at World Cups is that it is the second game that decides everything and, given that Mexico’s second match is against Brazil in Fortaleza, it was rather important they won their first.

The 1-0 victory over Cameroon in the driving rain at Natal was rather more impressive than it sounds. Even apart from two legitimate goals from Giovanni dos Santos that were somehow ruled offside, the big decisions that the Mexico manager, Miguel Herrera, made by and large paid off.

The choice of Oribe Peralta to spearhead the Mexico attack ahead of Javier Hernandez, whose promise at Old Trafford has dulled, was rewarded by what turned out to the decisive goal at the Arena das Dunas. 

The big debate centred on the choice of goalkeeper. Jesus Corona had kept goal in the play-off against New Zealand, captained Mexico to gold in the London Olympics and kept well for Cruz Azul. Guillermo Ochoa had been outstanding for Ajaccio in the French League and, according to reports in the Mexican press, Herrera had asked his defenders whom they would prefer.


His choice of Ochoa was rewarded with a clean sheet, although had Benoit Assou-Ekotto’s free-kick been deflected fractionally differently, Cameroon would have made Mexico pay for their looseness in front of goal with two points.

The most interesting feature of Mexico’s play was the formation adopted by a side who had squeezed through qualification in a shambolic state.

The 3-5-2 gave Mexico a decisive advantage against Cameroon and may offer them hope against Brazil when the Selecao come to the North-East. Against Croatia, they looked vulnerable at times and, now that Mexico have regained their nerve, they might be in a mood to exploit the rare weaknesses.