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World Cup pre-game: Croatia vs. Mexico

Mexico did very well to keep Brazil to a goalless draw. But they have only one goal so far, whereas Brazil has three. Croatia - who thrashed Cameroon 4-1 - needs to beat Mexico if the Vatreni are to go through. The teams meet for the first time since 2002 Monday (CBC.ca/fifaworldcup, 4 p.m. ET).

Must-win match for each team

Mexico's goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa had the match of his life against Brazil. Now Ochoa will face a Croatian that scored four goals in their last match - their highest output in a single World Cup game. Which side will prove they are deserving of advancing in Brazil? (Francois Xavier Marit/Getty Images)

Group A: Croatia vs. Mexico

  • 4 p.m. ET, Monday, June 23
  • CBC.ca/fifaworldcup

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.

Impact players

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.

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