South Africa vs Mexico, kick-off Friday 3pm
No host nation has ever been eliminated at the group stage, and South Africa will be desperate to avoid becoming the first to do so at this World Cup.
They open their campaign against Mexico today, and they are 15/8 to continue their 12-game unbeaten run with a win.
Defence could be the deciding factor not only in this fixture, but in Group A as a whole, and Bafana Bafana will be counting on captain and centre-back Aaron Mokoena to marshal their mean backline.
South Africa have only conceded three goals in their last nine matches, while Mexico have leaked seven goals from their last four fixtures.
Carlos Alberto Parreira is expected to opt for a solid 4-5-1 formation, with Fulham’s Kagisho Dikgacoi deployed as a protective shield for the back four.
His holding duties could be shared with MacBeth Sibaya, while Everton’s Steven Pienaar will be the midfielder who breaks forward to join Katlego Mphela.
Mexico are expected to line up in a similar shape, though there will be a bigger emphasis placed on attack in their five-man midfield.
Pacy and skilful both, wingers Giovani Dos Santos and Carlos Vela will support lone striker Javier Hernandez.
The creativity of Mexico’s midfield may be offset, however, by a distinct physical inferiority to a robust South African line-up.
With such an excellent recent defensive record, South Africa are very temptingly priced at 2/1 to keep a clean sheet against Mexico.
Keep up to date with team news for today’s match here on Ladbrokes.