Group A recap: Brazil and Mexico advance, Croatia and Cameroon go home

Group A recap: Brazil and Mexico advance, Croatia and Cameroon go home

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Brazil finished the group stage with its biggest win thus far, beating Cameroon 4-1 to finish atop Group A. Mexico nearly snatched that top spot from the Brazilians with a 3-1 win over Croatia to finish level with Brazil on seven points, but falling to second on goal difference (Brazil 5, Mexico 3). Croatia only finished with three points and Cameroon pulled up the rear with no points and several embarrassing moments.

Still Alive

Brazil — The World Cup started with a Brazil own goal and included stretches in each match where it  looked very beatable, but it still accomplished the first stage of its mission and no one will remember how it happened just so long as it did. Next for Brazil is a 2010 World Cup round of 16 rematch against Chile. Brazil won 3-0 in 2010, but Chile could give the Brailians a more challenging test this time around.

[Related: Scenarios for all World Cup groups ]

Mexico — It's difficult to overstate the job manager Miguel Herrera has done with this team. Before he swooped in near the end of a terrible CONCACAF qualifying campaign, this team was a disjointed mess going through coaches like tissues. Since then, Mexico has become a unit that has overcome too many bad calls from the officials and even held Brazil scoreless. It will face the Netherlands in the round of 16, which might be a bridge too far.

Man of the Group: Neymar, Brazil. All eyes were on him coming into the tournament and he's held up his end of the bargain even while his teammates have been overwhelmingly ordinary. He has four goals already to lead everyone and if the players around him find their form, Brazil will be scary.

[Related: Neymar is good, but Brazil fans say he has a long way to go to be great ]

Best Goal: Marcelo, Brazil. When the first goal of the World Cup is an own goal scored by a player for the host nation, it has to win. It just has to. Also, facial expressions like this can't be denied.

Best Match: Mexico and Brazil, 0-0. It was the group's only scoreless draw, but it was fantastic. Mexico goalkeeper Memo Ochoa put in a performance for the ages to keep Brazil from scoring. The whole match was a brilliant example of just how intense and entertaining a scoreless draw can be.

Deserved Better: Samuel Eto'o. The Cameroon legend was only able to play the first match of the group stage due to injury and after that he as relegated to watching from the bench and breaking up fights between his teammates. This was likely the 33-year-old striker's final World Cup and it's a shame his team didn't come together to help give him a better send-off.

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