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Mexico v Russia: Cherchesov ready for 'final' with last-four spot at stake

Stanislav Cherchesov is expecting "a kind of final" as Russia and Mexico go head-to-head for a place in the last four of the Confederations Cup.

Russia go into the contest at Kazan Arena in third place in Group A, having followed up their 2-0 win over New Zealand with a 1-0 defeat to Portugal.

Only a victory will guarantee that they do not become the first host nation to fail to progress beyond the group stage since South Korea in 2001.

Cherchesov was encouraged by his side's second-half display against Portugal, though, and he takes some confidence into Saturday's meeting.

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"What we decided to change after half-time, we managed to change," he said. "And I think we made correct decisions.

"The game against Mexico will be a kind of final for both teams."

Juan Carlos Osorio's Mexico sit top of Group A, level on four points with Portugal but having scored a goal more, though they know that status will be under threat, given the European champions face bottom side New Zealand on the same day.

El Tri had to battle back from a goal down against the side from Oceania on matchday two to claim a 2-1 win that moved them into pole position to qualify, although their performance came in for plenty of criticism back at home.

Osorio, however, felt that the tactical changes they made and the way they performed in the second half are real causes for optimism.

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"There's no team in the world of football that doesn't have to suffer at some point or other," he said. 

"After the half-time team talk, we came out in the second half and played a faster game with our wide men.

"We also switched to a lone striker, with the other forward – Oribe Peralta – at the tip of the diamond. Hector Herrera had a big impact on the game when he came on. He created passing angles and he helped us a lot, just as he did against Portugal.

"That was one of the key factors and I think we totally outclassed our opponents in the second half."

These two teams drew in their only competitive meeting to date in the 1970 World Cup and a point apiece could be enough to send both teams through, but only if New Zealand record a shock victory over Portugal.


Key Opta Stats:

– This will be the first meeting between the two sides in any competition since 1994, when they met in a friendly; Russia ran out 4-1 winners that day.
– Russia have won just one of their last five competitive matches, a 2-0 win against New Zealand in the opening game of this year's Confederations Cup (D1, L3).
– In contrast, Mexico have lost just one of their last 15 games in all competitions (W10, D4), and are unbeaten in their last five in a row (W3, D2).
– Russia failed to record a single shot on target in their last game against Portugal, the first time in this year's Confederations Cup that a side has failed to register at least one.
– Fedor Smolov has scored five goals in his last five games for club and country combined, including two in his last four for Russia.
– Mexico's last 13 goals at the Confederations Cup have all come from inside the box, including one penalty, with eight of those being headed goals.
– Guillermo Ochoa has recorded a 97 per cent passing accuracy so far in the tournament (30/31), the highest of any player to make 10+ passes. 
– Raul Jimenez has six goals in his last nine games in all competitions for club and country, including three in his last five for Mexico.