The World Cup continues Monday with four group-stage matches (all times EDT):
Group B: Netherlands vs. Chile in Sao Paulo, noon (ESPN)
Group B: Spain vs. Australia in Curitiba, noon (ESPN2)
Group A: Mexico vs. Croatia in Recife, 4 p.m. (ESPN)
Group A: Brazil vs. Cameroon in Brasilia, 4 p.m. (ESPN2)
MATCH OF THE DAY
Mexico vs. Croatia
The stakes ramp up for many teams as the final round of group play begins, but only one matchup today is essentially an elimination game: Croatia must win to advance to the round of 16, while Mexico needs a win or a draw. The Croats (1-1-0, three points), coming off a 4-0 rout of self-destructive Cameroon, have to crack the defense of El Tri (1-0-1, four points), which has yet to allow a goal. Fitting, then, that Croatia went on the offensive before the match even started. Coach Niko Kovac said Sunday, according to an Associated Press report, that “If anybody’s knees should be trembling,” it should be the Mexican defense’s.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Guillermo Ochoa, Mexico
The goalkeeper gave one of the standout individual performances of the tournament in Mexico’s previous game, making several spectacular saves to hold high-powered Brazil to a scoreless draw. (“He came up with at least four miracles,” Brazil’s Fred told reporters of Ochoa after the game.) Playing for a team that has scored just once in two games — and facing an attacking side featuring Bayern Munich star Mario Mandzukic — Ochoa’s intervention will likely again be needed.
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