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Friday, June 13, 2014

Five things to watch Friday at the World Cup

<strong>Neymar (Brazil):</strong> One of the youngest players for the host team has a nice resume, including a stint with Real Madrid's youth team before signing his first professional contract at 17. Despite a mediocre debut this past season with powerhouse Barcelona, the 22-year-old has 31 goals in 48 appearances for Brazil and was controversially left off the 2010 World Cup team. Expect him to find the net, especially when you consider his wildly talented supporting cast.
  • Cameroon may not get to the knockout round but they usually delight
  • Mexico wasn't a great team during qualifying but their captain says don't overlook them
  • Spain coach says his lads are in physically good shape
  • Another reason to cheer for Cameroon? The team nickname
(CNN) -- Three games are on the schedule Friday at the World Cup, including a match between fancied Spain and always tough the Netherlands in a rematch of the 2010 final.
You'll also be able to watch Mexico, which at one point was a minute away from missing the finals, battle Cameroon in the first match of the day, and Australia take on Chile in the last.
Here are five things to look for on Friday:
Crushing on Cameroon
Their World Cup history is short and their highlights are limited, with six appearances in the finals and five early exits. But since Roger Milla's goal to shock holders Argentina in the 1990 opener, we've loved watching them. They are like a rock band with no hit records, but man do they put on a live show.

El Tri says we're ready now
Mexico was about 90 seconds from being sent home from qualifying, but thanks to a stoppage-time goal from the United States that eliminated Panama, Mexico was able to advance. The team also struggled in warmup matches, so you'd think they might have a goal of say, getting out of their tough group, but no, they plan more. "Our team is strong and in our minds we believe we can make it all the way to the finals and make history," longtime defender and captain Rafa Marquez said Thursday. No sweat, they just have to make it out of a group that also has Brazil and Croatia.
Early showdown
Defending champion Spain has this winning major titles thing down pat. Spain won European championships in 2008 and 2012 as well as the World Cup in '10. That's why La Roja is the No. 1 team coming in even if teams like Brazil and Germany are more favored. "It's a veteran team," Spanish coach Vicente del Bosque said. "It's a mature team with people who are in shape, it's what they do, what they have done." On Friday they meet the Netherlands -- you might call them Holland -- in what should be the best game of the day.
Will there be more protests?
In Natal, where Cameroon and Mexico play in the first match of the day, there are 4,700 federal troops to provide security and keep order, The New York Times reports, adding that a bus strike affecting a half-million commuters began this week.
Reason to love Cameroon
One of the best nicknames in the tournament: The Indomitable Lions.