2017 Confed Cup 3rd Place Play-Off: Mexico v Portugal Preview

3rd-Place-Play-Off-Preview

Our football writer previews the FIFA Confederations Cup third/fourth place play-off between Portugal and Mexico which takes place on Sunday. 

The battle for the third place in the 2017 CAF Confederations Cup between Mexico and Portugal promises to be a cracking contest. Both teams have crashed out of the competition after losing their respective semi-final encounters and pride is all to play for as they look to end off well and give their fans something to cheer about.

This is a repeat of these sides’ group stage meeting in which Mexico came back twice to salvage a 2-2 draw. Portugal’s attacking prowess can not be doubted but their defence leaves a lot to be desired. On the other hand, Mexico’s resilience and ability to bounce back throughout this tournament has been something to behold.



2017 Confederations Cup Third Place Play-Off | Sunday 02 July | Otkrytiye Arena | 14:00

To Win (90 Mins)
Portugal 5/4 | Draw 49/20 | Mexico 2/1


Mexico 

Mexico will be hoping to redeem themselves in Moscow after a disastrous semi-final display against Germany where they were thumped 4-1. Ahead of that, the CONCACAF champions had met Portugal in the group stages which ended in a 2-2 draw.

They scored twice in in each of their other group stage matches, beating both New Zealand and Russia 2-1. Mexico hasn’t really played well to deserve a place in the final and one must say being losing semi-finalists is a true reflection of their campaign.

Over the years they’ve had their hopes pinned on three star players: Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Giovanni Dos Santos and goalkeeper, Guillermo Ochoa – but their talismen have not stepped up to the plate so far.

This fixture provides a golden opportunity for Mexico to bow out in style. A win would serve as a morale booster for the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Two of Mexico’s regular starters, Carlos Salcedo and Diego Reyes are rated doubtful for the clash. Their recent injuries kept them out of the match against Germany. Coach Juan Carlos Osorio, might also use the less competitive match to try out new combinations.



Portugal
Portugal missed out on the final after suffering a 3-0 penalty shootout defeat at the hands of Chile. The match had ended in a goalless draw after extra time. That was the first time Portugal failed to score a single goal in the tournament.

The accusing finger was pointed at their go-to man for big occasions, Cristiano Ronaldo, for not taking any of the first three of penalties which were all unsuccessful. This time the captain and all-time leading goalscorer for the Portuguese will not be available for selection due to family responsibility. He has been excused from the team to spend some time with his newly-born twin sons. The Portuguese national side will be an average team without him.

The European champions will have to punch above their weight to outdo Mexico. Fernando Santos’ men have been characterized by defensive frailties this year. Their defence has been blowing hot and cold, as conceded three goals in their first two games but kept two clean sheets in their last two matches.

On the upside, the team’s youngsters have been a revelation. Bernado Silva and Andre Silva have taken it by the scruff of its neck. Both players have sealed moves to big teams as well, Manchester City and AC Milan respectively.

The Seleccao will have their most experienced defender, Pepe, back for the match, after serving a one-match suspension.

Verdict: Mexico 2/1
This will be a tightly contested encounter. Portugal have done well whenever they've defended as a team. They have Pepe back and the youngsters in Bernado Silva and Andre Silva are doing all they can to convince their new bosses that they have got what it takes. However, they will have it tough without Ronaldo. Mexico’s resilience, experience and magnificent team spirit will see them narrowly edging their opponents.

Written by Benedict Ngwenya for @Hollywoodbets

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