Mexico vs Russia by Isaiah
Mexico had more problems than what was expected in the previous round, but still managed to take a narrow 2:1 victory against outsiders from New Zealand. There was no doubt that the Mexicans were better from the first till last moment, however players from New Zealand managed to take the lead in 43nd minute via Wood, a bit against the flow of the match.
Since that moment on, players of Mexico were especially threatening and dominated the field a lot, however their opponents had great fighting spirit and it wasn't easy path to revert the scoreline. Still, Mexicans deserved the victory thanks to goals from Jimenez in 54th and Peralta in 72nd minute. After this victory and a draw against Portugal, it all comes to the game against Russia as the team can't afford to lose - that would surely put them out of the competition, while in case of a draw, they would seal the qualification for the semi-finals.
Mexicans should be lined up in 4-3-3 formation with Chicharito and Vela on the wings, plus Jimenez as central striker. Central defender Carlos Salcedo picked up an injury in the first halftime of the previous match and should be replaced by Nestor Araujo most likely. Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez are fresh for this one, being unused in the previous round.
Russia, on the other hand, couldn't do much more against current European champions from Portugal, as the team got defeated with narrow 1:0 score. Once again they weren't that threatening in attack, while the Portuguese side got what they wanted (a goal) in ninth minute already when Ronaldo scored and well, didn't both that much to speed up the tempo, even though they remained much more threatening side during the whole game.
Russians didn't have plenty of real chances, once again showing to struggle in attack against any better organized defensive lineups. Combined with a victory against New Zealand in the first leg, the host nation now needs to get a victory here as it's the only way with which they can secure the semi-finals stage, which means that they will need to cope with plenty of pressure and finally show something more in the offensive part of the game.
Russians should be playing in some version of 3-5-2 formation with Smolov and Poloz as strikers. They are set to play with the best starting eleven since the team has no room for calculations.
Russians will need to attack here since they are the ones who need all three points here and I see plenty of chances for Mexicans to be very threatening, especially on counters. Hosts are anyway a side that doesn't know how to score plenty of goals or to be very dangerous in attack and I simply can't see them walking away with a three pointer - on contrary, they should be very vulnerable in defense.