Mexico v Russia
Saturday June 24, 16:00
This is a huge opportunity for Russia to make a statement ahead of next year's World Cup, as a place in the semi-finals of this competition would represent tangible progress for Stanislav Cherchesov's hosts. However, Russia have shown little sign so far that they are capable of grabbing that chance with both hands. They did what they had to do against a limited New Zealand team that played poorly, but then took far too long to get going in their 1-0 defeat against Portugal.
Russia know they need to win to progress, and their fate could be decided by which Mexico team decides to turn up. If it's the one that twice fought back from a goal down against Portugal to draw 2-2, then Russia are in trouble, but they are in with a shot if El Tri's shambolic performance against New Zealand is repeated.
In fairness, coach Juan Carlos Osorio made some disastrous choices ahead of that New Zealand match, and has probably learned his lesson. He made a raft of changes to his team, and switched to a back three, a defensive shift that caused uncertainty throughout. Osorio will now select his best available team, although he must do without the injured Hector Moreno and Carlos Salcedo.
Russia have home advantage, but I've seen little in the past year to suggest they can get the win they need here. Mexico could well recall a fresh Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez to their attack, and Raul Jimenez scored a fantastic equaliser in the 2-1 win over New Zealand. That extra quality in attack could make the difference here, which is why I'll back Mexico Draw No Bet, adding in insurance in case the Mexicans settle for the point they need.
Back Mexico Draw No Bet at [1.8]