European champions Portugal set up the first clash of the 2017 Confederations Cup Russia against Mexico at Kazan on Sunday. The Portuguese go to Russia on the back of very impressive wins over Latvia and Cyprus last week. As usual, Cristiano Ronaldo was among the goals, scoring a brace in his nation’s 0-3 win over Latvia in a WC 2018 qualifier Saturday last. He is bound to look for more goals when he runs into the Mexicans on Sunday at the Kazan Arena.
The Mexicans on the the other hand have just come out of a gruelling 1-1 home draw against the United States in a North American zone WC 2018 qualifying clash. The Central American team will be disappointed with their finishing having scored just once from their 10 attempts at goal at the Estadio Azteca on Sunday night. Before the USA clash, Mexico ramped up a 3-0 win against a under-strength Ireland at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, USA. Jesus Corona, Raul Jimenez and Carlos Vela who got the goals are all likely to feature in the weekend clash against Portugal. But, all eyes will be on J. dos Santos and Bayer Leverkusen forward Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez when it comes to getting goals.
For Portugal, the two surprises have been the omission of Euro 2016 hero Eder and 19-year old prodigy Renato Sanches from the squad. Very poor 2016/17 seasons at their respective clubs, Lille OSC and Bayern Munich could have prompted manager Fernando Santos to take this hard step. The Portuguese attack will revolve around their Real Madrid champion, Ronaldo, the very talented Bernardo Silva (Monaco) and ex-Manchester United winger Nani. The defence will in all probability be marshaled by stalwarts like the tough Pepe of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund’s left back Raphael Guerreiro. Pepe will as usual take the role of the central defender.
It would also be interesting to see how the resolute Guillermo Ochoa (who was at his dazzling best between the posts for the Mexicans at the 2014 World Cup) is able to keep the likes of Ronaldo & co. at bay at the Kazan Arena.
These two nations have just met twice in the last couple of decades with both matches going in favour of Portugal – a 2-1 FIFA World Cup win in 2006 and 0-1 in a 2014 friendly. Bookmakers are expecting similar results from Sunday’s clash.
Portugal to win, Best Odds 11/10 @ Ladbrokes