World Cup pre-game: Croatia vs. Mexico
Must-win match for each team
Group A: Croatia vs. Mexico
- 4 p.m. ET, Monday, June 23
What’s at stake
Mexico did very well to keep Brazil to a goalless draw. But they have only one goal so far, whereas Brazil has three. El Tri need goals and points.
Croatia - who thrashed Cameroon 4-1 - needs to beat Mexico if the Vatreni are to go through.
Croatia leads the head-to-head series with two victories and one loss. They last played each other in 2002, with Mexico winning 2-1 in the group stage of that World Cup.
Croatia: Mario Mandzukic. He scored two goals in the second match after a serving a ban for the first. He can taste the Round of 16.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa. The Mexican keeper stopped everything the Brazilians threw at him. It was incredible to watch.
What to watch for
Ochoa’s match was a game for the ages. Can he do it again?
After an unsteady start in their first game, Croatia came out to play against Cameroon from end-to-end and whistle-to-whistle.
The second half will be very interesting. Mexico scored their only goal in the 61st minute, and Croatia scored three of their four after the break. This game could be decided by which side has the endurance.
They said it
“The action was strange. Both of us were running and suddenly I felt a blow. I think that it was clearly on purpose.” Mandzukic speaking to German TV about the elbow he took to the back from Cameroon’s Alex Song.
“There's no goalkeeper in a World Cup that has done what Ochoa did against Brazil.” Miguel Herrera, manager for Mexico, glowing about his star keeper.
The big number
4 — Croatia’s four goals against Cameroon was the most goals they’ve ever scored in one World Cup game. They’ll be keen to do that again. Mind you they have to start by getting one past Ochoa.
Obligatory fun fact
Ochoa’s heroic game against Brazil launched a series of memes that went viral within minutes of the match ending.