Brazil vs Mexico
Brazil vs Mexico Reuters

Brazil has slowly but surely got better as the Fifa World Cup 2018 has progressed, finding the right strategy and attacking cohesion to, eventually, cruise into the round of 16. Their next test, against Mexico, however, could end up being the stiffest yet, which means the Selecao will need to continue improving if they are to make it to the quarterfinals.

With almost all of the other pre-tournament favourites falling by the wayside in this highly unpredictable World Cup, Brazil certainly has all the odds in their favour at the moment.

What they need to ensure is that they don't take their eyes off the job at hand and look too far into the future, thinking they already have the Jules Rimet Trophy in their kitty. If they do that, then, like Germany, Argentina and Spain, they will find themselves on an early flight home.

However, that does look unlikely to happen, because since Tite has taken over the reins, Brazil has been extremely efficient – tight at the back, solid in midfield with a sprinkling of stardust up front, courtesy Neymar and Philippe Coutinho.

Mexico, though, is the team that completely outplayed Germany in their opening match of the Fifa World Cup 2018, and they also have a pretty decent recent record against the five-time world champions.

Therefore, Brazil will need to be at the top of their game to seal a place in the quarterfinals.

Team news:

Brazil:

A big blow for Brazil going into this match is that Marcelo will not feature in the starting XI. The Real Madrid left-back had to come off in the win over Serbia with a back spasm and while he has returned to training, Tite has revealed he won't risk starting him against Mexico.

"Marcelo practised a little bit and also trained less," Fabio Mahseredjian, part of the coaching staff, said. "He came to practice, he did only one specific drill, without issues.

"But this also makes me conclude that he loses a bit of reaction speed and causes us to be cautious in a 120-minute match (if the match goes into extra-time).

"Tomorrow (Monday) the temperature is forecast to be high and very humid, which could lead to increased exhaustion."

Brazil, though, is lucky to have a really good replacement in that position in Felipe Luis, who also plays his club football in Madrid, but for Atletico.

That will be the only change that Brazil will make to their starting XI, with Tite revealing he will stick with the same players that easily beat Serbia, despite Danilo returning to full fitness.

Douglas Costa will miss the second match through injury.

Mexico:

A crucial defender is also missing for Mexico, with Hector Moreno suspended for this round of 16 match after picking up two yellow cards. Hugo Ayala is the man tipped to replace Moreno in the playing XI.

Possible XI:

Brazil: Alisson; Fagner, Thiago Silva, Miranda, Filipe Luis; Casemiro, Paulinho; Willian, Philippe Coutinho, Neymar, Gabriel Jesus.

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Miguel Layun, Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo; Hector Herrera, Jonathan Dos Santos, Andres Guardado; Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Hirving Lozano.