European champions Portugal kick off their Confederations Cup campaign against 2015 CONCACAF Cup winners Mexico in what promises to be a fascinating fixture from Group A.
Portugal have lost just twice since securing that sensational triumph against France in Paris last summer and Fernando Santos has signalled that he wants his side to make their mark in Russia by naming a full-strength squad for this competition.
Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 16 goals in his last 10 matches for club and country, will undoubtedly play a pivotal role if the Portuguese are to be successful this summer and bet365 make the European side their 21/20 (2.05) favourites to kick off the campaign with a win against El Tri.
Mexico were held to a home draw against United States in World Cup qualifying on Sunday night, but that result is unlikely to cause too much concern, for Juan Carlos Osorio’s men remain as firm favourites to secure their place in next summer’s showpiece, given their six-point advantage at the top of their qualification section.
El Tri cruised to a comfortable 3-1 win against a second-string Republic of Ireland side in an international friendly at the beginning of this month and Osorio’s side will hope to emulate that success against European opposition on Sunday.
This task is tougher, though, and the enormity of the challenge facing Mexico is reflected by the 13/5 (3.60) quote for El Tri to open their Confederations Cup campaign with a win, with 23/10 (3.30) that both sides are forced to settle for a share of the spoils.
Former Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez is expected to lead the line for El Tri and Osorio’s outfit certainly pack a punch in the final third of the pitch, for Mexico have found the net in all but one of their last 11 matches.
Portugal, too, have been amongst the goals in recent outings - Santos’ side have scored at least three goals in each of their last seven victories, while their most recent defeat - against Sweden in a friendly fixture - saw the European champions race into a two-goal lead before eventually succumbing to a 3-2 defeat by virtue of a last-gasp own goal.
With Ronaldo in red hot form, Santos’ team will fancy their chances of adding to their tally against El Tri but Osorio’s men, too, pose a potent attacking threat and they will be full of confidence, having scored seven goals in their last three outings.
As such, bet365’s even money (2.0) quote for both teams to find the net could well offer decent value for punters ahead of Sunday’s showdown.