FIFA World Cup Preview: Croatia v Mexico
By Football News
Everything is on the line in Recife on Monday as both Croatia and Mexico dream of reaching the FIFA World Cup knockout stages.
After collecting four points from their opening two matches in Group A, Mexico know a draw will secure a last-16 appearance at their sixth successive finals.
The Central American nation have yet to concede a goal so far in the competition, a feat only Nigeria have matched, and captain Rafael Marquez is keen to continue to build from the back.
However, Croatia will be brimming with confidence after a 4-0 thrashing of Cameroon on Wednesday.
That result helped go some way to erasing the disappointment of an opening-day defeat to Brazil for Niko Kovac's side and Marquez expects a tough encounter, given Croatia - on three points - almost certainly need a win to progress as the hosts will be expected to beat Cameroon in the other game.
"We've always known we were going to face tough opponents," he told FIFA.com. "Croatia have loads of very talented players.
"They've got very quick wingers who can get to the byline and put the ball in the box.
"They've also got a lethal striker (Mario Mandzukic) and some of the best central midfielders around. They're a great team, so it won't be easy.
"We'll have to give our best to get at least a point and move on to the next phase. Keeping clean sheets has been key for us and we're determined to keep that going."
While Mexico have not thrilled in their two matches, Croatia were extremely impressive in their demolition of 10-man Cameroon in Manaus, with Kovac is unlikely to make any changes.
The form of Mario Mandzukic will be key, having already seen the value the Bayern Munich striker brings after he returned following suspension last time out and scored twice.
Goals are by no means easy to come by against Miguel Herrera's Mexico side, especially if goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa produces a display similar to that against Brazil.
The 28-year-old made a string of good saves and will need to be at his best again to keep Mexico's hopes alive.