Everything is on the line Saturday in Kazan.
Russia and Mexico are deadlocked in Group A play heading into their final group match, and odds are that only one of them advances to the next round. It will either be the earliest exit for a Confederations Cup host since 2011, or yet another premature departure from Mexico at a major tournament.
Portugal are making things difficult in Group A, having taken four points from their first two matches. Ronaldo and crew should be through to the semifinals, so long as they put away already-eliminated New Zealand. If the All-Whites pull a stunning upset, however, then a draw between Russia and Mexico would send them both through to the next round.
That being said, El Tri would prefer a straight victory over the hosts to assure safe passage. That assurance has been lacking with the Mexican team recently, especially in their last match against New Zealand. Manager Juan Carlos Osorio made eight changes to his lineup for the match, a move that was heavily criticized back in North America. New Zealand scored an early goal off of a turnover, and Mexico were on the verge of disaster. But to Osorio’s credit, he made changes in the second half and Mexico were able to gut out a 2-1 victory.
Those mistakes need to be avoided against the Russians. Stanislav Cherchesov has an organized squad, and they won’t let a defensive breakdown send them home so easily. Russia need a win to guarantee a semifinal spot, so they’ll likely deviate from the 5-4-1 formation they utilized in the first two matches. Expect something more aggressive from Russia, with Poloz and Smolov up top.
Here are the basics:
DATE: Saturday, June 24, 2017
KICKOFF TIME: 11:00 a.m. Eastern
LOCATION: Kazan Stadium
LIVE STREAM: Click here for all live streaming information