Mexico vs. Russia
Date and Time: Saturday, June 24, 2017, 11 a.m. ET
Location: Kazan Arena, Kazan, Russia
Soccer Odds: Mexico +142, O/U 2.5
Mexico vs. Russia TV Coverage: FOX
The Motherland knows what's at stake in this one. There's a huge difference between being eliminated in the group stage of the Confederations Cup and being guaranteed two more matches against top notch competition in the knockout rounds. Russia needs all of the big-match experience it can get against the big boys, and winning this fixture against Mexico would guarantee a shot at most likely Chile and Germany.
The Confederations Cup isn't so much about winning as much as it is getting the experience. If the Russians can't get that experience, they might not have enough horses on their side to ultimately reach the knockout rounds of the World Cup they're hosting next summer.
That said, Russia only has three points from two fixtures after a disappointing 1-0 loss to Portugal. A Seleccao clearly had the better of the two sides on this night, and home field advantage was the only thing that kept that match in the balance for the entirety of the game. Anything less than a win on Saturday will send the Russians home and allow Portugal and Mexico to advance as was predicted at the outset of the tourney.
But nothing is guaranteed for El Tri. They've been behind three times already in this tournament and have fought back valiantly each time. But how many more times is Juan Carlos Osorio's team going to be able to ride its luck before it runs out? If it comes here in this match against Russia, the trip back to Mexico will be a long one and a premature one. It might also be the last time Osorio ever gets a shot to coach this team.
There's a reason why these match odds are relatively tight. Russia has to go for broke for this win and will have the hometown crowd on its side. The price of +190 seems justifiable. Meanwhile, Mexico knows that a draw is good enough to go through, and that's why it's only a +140 favorite.
If we're being completely honest, Russia really hasn't been that great in this tournament. It did what it was supposed to do against New Zealand, but the only reason why it was in the match against the European champs was because of the play of its keeper, Igor Akinfeev. He made two brilliant saves when things could have gone completely awry, and though he was saddled with the defeat, he could have just as easily been Man of the Match.
Mexico has dominated possession in each of its first two fixtures in the Confederations Cup, but its shooting hasn't exactly been spot on. Against New Zealand, El Tri had 65 percent of the possession and ripped off 22 shots, though only 11 found the target and two ended up in the back of the net.
Mexico vs. Russia Free Picks
If Akinfeev and the Russian defense can hold the fort for the full 90 minutes, this is going to be a winnable fixture for the hosts.
In the end though, we really think they're hurting by not having Artem Dzyuba or Alan Dzagoev in the lineup. These two men have combined to score 20 goals for their country and are legitimate stars in European club soccer. Without them, we think Russia will be missing that scoring touch in the final third. Mexico will have to see this one out as best as it can, but it will get the draw it needs to accomplish the mission of surviving Group A.
Mexico vs. Russia Soccer Pick: Draw +230 at BookMaker.eu
Mexico vs. Russia Score Prediction: Mexico 0, Russia 0