Brazil dealt injury blow after striker Hulk leaves training
HOSTS Brazil have been dealt an injury blow with striker Hulk leaving the team's training session after only 15 minutes yesterday with what looked like a muscle injury in his left leg.
He was walking without a limp, but then sat down on a bench and lowered his head in apparent dismay.
A few moments later he went to the locker room, accompanied by one of the team's doctors.
The injury came in one of Brazil's final practices before tomorrow's Group A match against Mexico, for which the hosts travelled to the northeastern city of Fortaleza yesterday afternoon.
The Hulk news overshadowed the build-up to Brazil's second match of the World Cup.
After a difficult 3-1 win against Croatia in the opener, the hosts have a chance to advance to the round of 16 by beating their old rivals.
Mexico also started with a victory, beating Cameroon 1-0, and will similarly be looking to advance from Group A.
The winners will be guaranteed a spot in the next round if Cameroon and Croatia draw on Thursday in Manaus.
"We know it's going to be another difficult match," said Brazil and Chelsea playmaker Oscar.
"It could decide which team advances to the next round, so it will be like a final again. We know that it will be tough."
The Latin American rivals have met several times in the past few years, Brazil winning in the Confederations Cup last year and Mexico coming out on top in the final of the 2012 Olympics, a result that kept a Brazilian team led by Neymar and Oscar from winning the nation's first gold medal in football.
"That one especially hurt. It was a title we didn't have," Oscar said.
"We know Mexico have a very good team. They have always created difficulties for Brazil and I'm sure it won't be any different this time."
Coincidentally, the Confederations Cup match was also played in Fortaleza, and was also the second game of a group stage. Brazil won 2-0 with goals by Neymar and Jo.
Mexico have won seven of its past 15 matches against the five-time world champions, including two of the last four.
Giovani dos Santos had one of his best performances for Mexico in the opener against Cameroon.
"I'm happy with how the team has been playing collectively," he said.
"I think we are all understanding very well what [coach] Miguel Herrera wants us to do on the field. I see a very strong group and I'm very happy because of that."
- THE INDEPENDENT