Match Preview: Portugal v Mexico


Date: Sunday, June 18

Time: 6:00 PM

Stadium: Kazan Arena, Russia.

UEFA Euro 2016 Champions Portugal go head to head against 2015 CONCACAF winners Mexico in the group stages of the FIFA Confederations Cup.

Portugal is making its debut in the competition nicknamed the “mini World Cup” whereas Mexico are competing for the sixth time. The two teams have only meant twice before, with both matches going in Portugal’s favour. The following are the teams’ performances over their last five matches:

 

Portugal - W W L W W

Mexico -   D W W L W

Since their 1-0 triumph over hosts France, Portugal have only lost two matches, though a majority of their victories have come at the expense of outmatched opponents. Fernando Santos’ squad also managed to keep eight clean sheets in their last 10 matches, scoring an impressive 16 goals in their last five outings.

On the other hand, El Tri have only lost two of their last 15 match-ups, and their attack-minded lineup is always a joy to watch as it has constantly proven to give top teams a headache, especially in the opening moments of a match. Boss Juan Carlos Osorio has promised to field a strong team as the South American powerhouse prepares for this year’s edition of the CONCACAF Golden Cup, which is scheduled to begin in July.


Players to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo v Javier Hernandez

Four-time Ballon d’Or recipient Cristiano Ronaldo will be leading Portugal’s offense. The 32-year-old will be drawing inspiration from his recent Champions League and La Liga triumphs despite recent run ins with the law over allegations of tax evasion and rumours surrounding his unceremonious exit from Madrid. The juggernaut has scored 16 goals in his last 10 matches for club and country.

Former Manchester United linchpin Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez  hopes to remind fans of English football what they are missing as all eyes will be on him to conjure up some magic offensively for Mexico. The Bayer Leverkusen ace, who last month became his country’s all-time leading goalscorer, will however have to be cautious in his approach, since their rivals are known to bait their opponents into launching premature attacks before punishing them with surgical counter-attacks led by CR7.


Possible lineups:

Portugal: Rui Patricio; Bruno Alves, Jose Fonte, Raphael Guerreiro, Cedric; William Carvalho, Joao Moutinho, Andre Gomes; Nani, Cristiano Ronaldo, Andre Silva

Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Carlos Salcedo, Hector Moreno, Nestor Araujo, Miguel Layun; Jonathan Dos Santos, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado; Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez


The Verdict:

This one is tough to call because both squads are formidable, and their styles of play and impressive outings in recent matches make it highly likely that both teams will score. I will however give the edge to Portugal because of one reason - Cristiano Ronaldo. If their is something that the FIFA World Player of the year has proven of late is that one shouldn’t bet against him.