Mexico to regain momentum as Portugal missing key players
Mexico have never beaten Portugal, yet these fine footballing nations have faced each other just twice in history. They met in the group stage of the 2006 World Cup, where the Europeans went on to reach the last four.
Portugal beat the Aztecs 2-1 that day, and a repeat scoreline in this warm-up friendly for the Brazil finals is a 10/1 chance with Coral. Paulo Bento’s boys are a shorter price of 11/8 for a victory over El Tri.
Miguel Herrera, meanwhile, has a single defeat in international management, inflicted on Mexico by fellow finalists Bosnia and Herzegovina last time out. His Aztecs are 21/10 outsiders to upset the Navigators, with a draw priced at 9/4.
Record Portugal scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, who has netted six of the last nine goals scored by his country, is struggling for fitness with leg problems. The lack of cutting edge without him was apparent as Bento saw his side held by Greece – the team that stole Euro 2004 from under the very noses of the hosts.
Herrera’s Mexico are a tasty 15/4 to win to nil in the absence of Ronaldo, while defender Pepe and combative midfielder Raul Meireles should also miss out as they nurse injuries. It would be wrong to suggest the Iberian outfit are a one-man show, but others must seize this opportunity to impress.
Nani faces Manchester United teammate Javier Hernandez here, and the winger, who endured another injury-hit season, will be expected to help ease the burden on Ronaldo. He is 11/4 to net anytime here and add to 14 international goals in 73 caps.
Forward Eder and combative defender Bruno Alves both missed decent aerial chances for Portugal against Greece. Back the former at 15/8 to score anytime here, while the latter is an outside shot to do better from perhaps a set piece this time around at 8/1.
The Aztecs played three central defenders in the 2006 encounter, and will surely do so again here as Herrera favours wing backs. It is unlikely, though, he will play three forwards as Ricardo La Volpe started with in Gelsenkirchen.
El Tri frontman Chicharito, who scored 35 international goals, with at least dozen being openers, is an attractive 13/2 to be on target first again here. Versatile Cruz Azul man Marco Fabian, meanwhile, netted in back-to-back matches before the Bosnia loss, so punters must consider his anytime odds of 10/3.
Mexico are expected to name a full-strength side here, after trying out other players in the Bosnia match. Fabian and left-sided Andres Guardado could thus return. The Bayer Leverkusen loanee, who has amassed over 100 caps now, is an outsider bet at 13/2 for a goal.
Punters should consider the possibility of either nation keeping a clean sheet. Portugal are 13/8 in this market after three shut-outs in the last five, while the Aztecs are 2/1 following as many in six.
Latin American outfit Mexico are 5/4 to get out of Group A at the World Cup finals, a pool which also contains hosts and tournament favourites. Brazil’s former colonial overlords Portugal, meanwhile, face a tough job to top Group G, and are 9/4 behind Germany to do so.