Group A is only half-way through its first round, but after today’s result in Sao Paulo, the dynamics of the group have already changed. Thanks to their 3-1 win over Croatia, Brazil is one step closer to the securing the first place finish that would help them avoid Spain in the second round. And for Croatia, the loss means their margin for error’s grown smaller if they’re to make the knockout round.
Here’s our look at Group A after day one of the 2014 World Cup.
Brazil: Pick apart their performance all you want (heaven knows we have), but purely in terms of the standings, this is a great result. A multi-goal victory against what may prove to be their toughest Group A opposition? Unless you’re being greedy, you couldn’t scoff at that outcome. Bottom line: Positive.
Croatia: So close to a point, Croatia’s bound to be disappointed, but if the team didn’t have a plan for getting out of Group A without a result against Brazil, they may as well have stayed at home. Two wins still put the Croats through, and their goal could come in handy in tiebreaker scenarios should they draw with Cameroon or Mexico. Bottom line: Neutral, slightly negative.
Mexico: For El Tri, it was good news, bad news. The good: Brazil doesn’t seem to be clicking yet, meaning there’s a chance their sluggish form carries over into Tuesday’s showdown. The bad: If there is going to be a South American effect on European teams, it didn’t show in Croatia’s play on Thursday. Bottom line: Neutral.
Cameroon: The Indomitable Lions have the virtue of playing Brazil third, but that only becomes a benefit of the Selecao take six points through two rounds. After today’s result, the hosts are halfway there. If Brazil takes care of business against Mexico, it increases the chances they’ll rotate their squad against Cameroon. Bottom line: Neutral, slightly positive.
Brazil only solidified their standing as group favorites. Croatia and Mexico will still fight it out for second place.