Game on: Lineups and talking points for Cameroon v. Croatia
With Mexico and Brazil both on four points after two matches, the pressure is on Cameroon and Croatia to find a win and help avoid World Cup elimination
After losing their opener to Mexico 1-0, Cameroon will have to find inspiration from someone other than Samuel Eto’o whose left knee injury has left him out of the lineup. He’ll be replaced by 22-yeard old Lorient striker Vincent Aboubakar, who went for 16 goals in Ligue 1 last season.
For Croatia, they were done by in their 3-1 loss to Brazil but for this match the Blazers will have added firepower in the form of Mario Mandzukic, who replaces Nikica Jelavic up top.
Cameroon – Itandje, Assou-Ekotto, Nkoulou (c), Song, Moukandjo, Aboubakar, Choupo Moting, Chedjou, Mbia, Enoh, Matip
Croatia -Pletikosa, Pranjic, Perisic, Corluka, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric, Srna (c), Mandzukic, Olic, Sammir
1. Does Cameroon have bite without Eto’o? The Idomitable Lions had a few offensive flurries in their opener against Mexico but the majority of those chances came through Eto’o. In his place comes Aboubakar, who will have to step up if his country is to have a shot at the Round of 16.
2. Will Swim-Gate affect Croatia? We’ve all heard of the photos that reporters took of the Croatian team skinny-dipping and their ensuing ban on all media. But how will the team react on the pitch? Could this story serve as an odd motivator to get things right?
3. Will Mario Mandzukic step up? Suspended for the first match, look to see if Mandzukic can be the difference maker for Croatia. He’ll be eager to step on the World Cup stage after a brilliant performance in 2010 and could be extra motivated given his current status on the transfer market after it was reported he’ll be leaving Bayern Munich this summer.
Expectation: Cameroon looked sloppy and out-of-sorts during long spells of their first match so they’ll need to settle in and find a rhythm early to get something out of this match. If they fail to do so, expect that strong Croatian midfield to take charge and punish their opponents.
One blogger’s prediction: Croatia romps, wins by at least a goal but more likely two or three.