It may rank alongside marquee friendlies in the minds of the football hardcore but here at The Football Sack we’re going to show a little love to the Confederations Cup Third-Place Playoff with our Mexico preview.

The story so far
Mexico took advantage of being clearly the second best team in group A by qualifying despite going behind on four occasions in that group as they picked up two wins and a draw.

Amongst those results saw them come from behind twice against their upcoming opponents Portugal with Hector Moreno’s injury-time header showing the depth of the Mexican determination.

A pair of 2-1 wins over New Zealand and hosts Russia were less convincing though as their first halves left plenty to be desired before strong second periods got them over the line.

This first half malaise would come back to haunt them in their semi-final clash with Germany as the world champions scored twice in the opening ten minutes to just about put the game beyond Mexico before they’d had a chance to settle in. Even though Mexico improved in the second half, Germany were able to score either side of Marco Fabian’s 30-yard screamer to run out 4-1 winners.

They’ll beat Portugal because…
They have to bounce back.

Mexican fans are an expectant lot considering the sports popularity there and the embarrassment of the pretty listless defeat to Germany has caused no shortage of embarrassment for their players and especially coach Juan Carlos Osorio who has never been universally popular during his time with El Tri.

With that in mind, there’s plenty to lose here and they will be desperate not to. On top of that, they put in their best performance of the tournament against Portugal in the opening game with some intense pressure. With Cristiano Ronaldo ruled out of the game as well they could be a real chance here.

They’ll lose to Portugal because…
Shattered egos and an expectant public are a dangerous mix and there’s plenty of both in Mexico after their semi-final defeat. If they can’t find the mental fortitude to bounce back after such a deflating loss expect Portugal to capitalise.

This is not to mention that Portugal do still have considerable attacking threats against a Mexican side that has conceded eight goals so far this tournament. If they can’t eliminate the mistakes that plagued them against Germany, the likes of Queresma, Nani and Andre Gomes could have some fun out there.

Will they win the Confederations Cup Third-Place Playoff?

A possibly disinterested, Ronaldo-less Portugal could be just what the doctor ordered for a Mexican side so desperate to redeem itself. They know they can outplay Portugal as well and with a seemingly empty game now bearing some considerable importance for coach Osorio you would hope that they will be fired up for this one.

Best moment of the tournament so far
Hector Moreno’s injury-time header in the opening game against their upcoming opponents is still as good as it has been for El Tri. It grabbed them a deserved point from an impressive performance that did eventually fail to live up to its promise. However, in that moment you certainly felt like they could push the best teams and if they can get themselves another big moment like that, who knows, this could be an important result for them.

Key Player
There was a lot of bemusement amongst Mexican football Twitter as to Carlos Vela’s omission from the Germany game due to his skill and ability to change a game with a piece of creative ingenuity. That’s even without mentioning that he’s currently going through his best spell with the national team after some relationship issues in the past. Starting Vela is an absolute must if Mexico are to win.

Injuries/suspensions
Centre Back Diego Reyes will almost certainly miss this one through injury once again.

Prediction
Let’s go 2-1 Mexico. They may have some nervy moments but a response has to be coming. Surely?

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