El Tri are well aware that a point would suffice to see them go through to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup semi-final. On the other side, host nation Russia face embarrassment in front of their own crowd and will be determined to make one final hurrah at Kazan Arena.
Having established themselves as an international force over the past couple of years, Mexico headed to Russia on high hopes that they would be able to make a noteworthy result that would be a great introduction to the Gold Cup later this summer. Their 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup did not get off to a bright start, however, as Mexico struggled to find their pace against the European Champions Portugal in the opening round. El Tri were brave enough to come from behind on two occasions and grab a point in a hard-fought 2-2 draw and Juan Carlos Osorio’s men were expected to make a strong reaction in the next match against New Zealand. Instead, they once again fell behind and were forced to claw their way back in the game, which they fortunately did even though their 2-1 win remained in a shadow of a mass brawl that was sparked during the match. A point against Russia is needed but Mexico owe it to themselves to win the final group-stage game.
Juan Carlos Osorio rested a couple of key men against New Zealand and we should expect to see Javier Hernandez, Hector Herrera, Hector Moreno and Jonathan dos Santos being recalled to the starting line-up.
Two goals against New Zealand, one of which was an own goal from All Whites defender Boxall, can hardly be considered a satisfying record for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup hosts Russia. The ongoing tournament was supposed to be the biggest opportunity for the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts to showcase their quality and ability, but based on what has been displayed thus far Stanislav Cherchesov has a lot of work to do. Sbornaya Komanda are without a couple of their key players in the tournament, but their defense-oriented approach should not be any excuse for high-profile absentees. Problems in Russia’s team were most evident against Portugal when a defense-oriented side failed to fire a single shot on goal, leaving the in-form Krasnodar forward Fedor Smolov isolated upfront. The 27-year-old striker has scored three of Russia’s last 4 goals and Cherchesov will be urged to make a change in formation and approach in order to maximise the potential of his star upfront.
Cherchesov is expected to make some changes to his line-up for the final group-stage game, but he might first opt to change his style and field a two-forward line-up. FK Rostov striker Dmitri Poloz is in line for a starting berth together with Smolov.
With a place in the Confederations Cup semi-final at stake, both sides have plenty to fight for. Russia and Mexico will want to make an impression as well, after putting in a pair of below-par displays at the start of the competition. The home crowd could play a major part in this game and we can see Russian rising to the occasion.
Top pick: Both teams to score yes 1.83 (5/6) @10Bet
Alternative pick 1: Russia 3.00 (2/1) @Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Russia to win and BTTS 6.00 (5/1) @Bet365