Matheus Cunha, Andre Jardine, Jaime Lozano, Diego Lainez

MATCH PREVIEW: MEXICO VS BRAZIL, EL TRI AIM TO TO KEEP UP THEIR SCORCHING FORM AS THEY MEET THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS BRAZIL

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The defending champions meet the 2012 champions. Mexico and Brazil have each won gold in the past two Games which sets this semi-final up perfectly for everyone involved. Two of the most talented squads remaining in Tokyo will battle it out to see who meets either Japan or Spain in the final.

 

Mexico have been on a rampage ever since their arrival, scoring 14 goals in four games. They thrashed France 4-1 in their opening match while knocking six goals past South Korea in the quarter-finals. El Tri’s attack has clearly been the key strength with half a dozen different scorers already in the tournament.

 

Jamie Lozano has dipped into Mexico’s top-flight for players who have not disappointed. The only concern that remains going into this crunch clash is their defence which looked overrun at times against Korea. Though three goals conceded is not a big deal when you score six, Lozano will know that the Brazilian’s will not be so susceptible at the back.

 

Brazil started their sojourn for a second consecutive gold medal by drubbing Germany 4-2 in their first match as Everton striker Richarlison notched up a hat-trick. Since then however, their performances have become a lot more compact with only four goals in their next three games. Their defence has picked up a bit while their strikers look to make better inroads on goal than what they managed in their 1-0 win over Egypt last time out.

 

Andre Jardine has a great mix of players from Europe along with those who play their football in Brazil. Furthermore, the Selecao are undefeated in their last 10 games which will no doubt be another major cause of boost as they aim to make their third consecutive Olympic final.

 

TEAM NEWS

Mexico are without versatlie defender Erick Aguirre who suffered a muscle injury in their second group game against Japan. Lozano’s main assets are their forward line along with the experience of midfielder Luis Romo.

 

They will look to field an almost unchanged side maximising their threat given how stingy Brazil’s defence has been so far.

MEXICO PROBABLE LINE-UP: Ochoa; Lorona, Montes, Angulo, Sanchez; Cordova, Romo, Esquivel; Vega, Martin, Lainez

 

Brazil have a fully fit squad to choose from and Jardine will once again have the luxury of having an experienced back-line to support their goal-scoring options.

 

Richarlison has already racked up five goals which puts him way ahead of the others in the top goalscorer race while Matheus Cunha has also looked in fine touch.

BRAZIL PROBABLE LINE-UP: Santos; Alves, Nino, Carlos, Arana; Douglas Luiz, Guimaraes; Antony, Cunha, Claudinho; Richarlison

 

GAMECHANGERS

BRAZIL- MATHEUS CUNHA

The Hertha Berlin striker is the record goalscorer for the U23 side with 20 goals after his game-winner against the Pharaohs. Cunha has been thriving in his role behind Richarlison, serving as the man to distribute the ball as well as getting into the box for scoring.

 

He scored eight goals for the capital club from Berlin last season but has always shined for the national team where he can share the goal-scoring burden by a fair bit. His two goals in the tournament so far have both come in critical moments which will no doubt further underline his importance to the team. In the semi-final, Cunha’s main role will have to get into the gaps between the midfield and defence.

 

He has the pace to beat his man one-on-one which will trouble the back-line when they need to be careful not to lose Cunha. The 22-year-old is a deadly finisher who needs no second invitation and given El Tri’s propensity to seek goals, will have plenty of room on the counter-attack as well.

 

MEXICO- LUIS ROMO

The midfield general for the Mexicans has been pulling the strings for his team all tournament long. He has one goal and two assists following up on a superb club season where he had 18 goal contributions. Romo’s greatest strength lies in the fact that he is an efficient box-to-box player who does not shy away from his defensive chores.

 

Against South Korea, he had won the most number of duels (12) while making two recoveries to go with his assist for the opener. His calming influence and experience will be crucial when matching up with the Selecao. With all of Brazil’s attacking prowess, Romo will be critical in switching defence into attack.

 

Furthermore, he will also fall back as the fifth defender. Going forward, the attacking trio of El Tri will rely on Romo to supply the balls that keeps their hot scoring streak going as they aim to make the final.

 

PREDICTIONS

This match will be the teams’ first meeting since the final in 2012 when Mexico beat Brazil 2-1. This will one of the hardest matches to call so far, as both sides are almost evenly matched on paper. Given recent form though, it does seem like Mexico will start as favourites. FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for Mexico over Brazil based on their superior firepower showings so far.

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