Four matches to watch | Russia needs good start as Ronaldo goes against Sanchez

Russian National Team

Russia v New Zealand @Stadion Krestovskyi @4pm on June 17

President Vladimir Putin has stylishly told the 2018 World Cup hosts they must improve their results. That warning could be the motivation the team led by Stanislav Cherchesov need to do well in this dress rehearsal towards a better performance next year.

New kid on the block, Aleksandr Golovin, should prove a good find for the Russians as they test their might against a 95th-ranked New Zealand team, who are expected to act as canon fodder.

Current Form: Russia [D-W-D-L-W]; New Zealand [L-L-W-W-D]

Head to head

This will be their first meeting

Prediction: Russia 3-1 New Zealand

Portugal v Mexico @Kazan’ Arena @4pm on June 18

The first appearance for Portugal at the FIFA Confederations Cup but for Mexico, it is the sixth appearance at a tournament at which they have been winners on one occasion and also have a runners-up spot.

With Cristiano Ronaldo in the Portugal ranks, anything is possible even though the team now boasts some young world-class talents like Bernardo Silva from Monaco and Andre Gomes from Barcelona. Mexico come to Russia with a very experienced side led by the 38-year-old Rafael Marquez in defence and 33-year-old Oribe Peralta in the attack.

Current Form: Portugal [WW-L-W-W]; Mexico [D-W-W-L-W]

Head to head

07/06/14     FRI    Mexico        0 – 1   Portugal

21/06/06     WOC  Portugal       2 – 1   Mexico

Prediction: Portugal 3-2 Mexico

Cameroon v Chile @Otkrytiye Arena @7pm on June 18

A clash of styles between the African champions and the South African champions should mean an interesting clash. Cameroon, under Hugo Broos, needs to be better than their last friendly, in which they lost 4-0 to Colombia even though the Chileans have not been very stellar in their last five matches but they boast the world-class talents of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal, who can single-handedly turn a match.

The Indomitable Lions will be relying a lot on the tactical awareness and strength of central defender, Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui and the energy of Christian Bassogog to trouble the Chile defence that would be missing their goalkeeper and captain, Claudio Bravo.

Current Form: Cameroon [L-W-L-W-W]; Chile [L-D-W-W-L

Head to head

23/06/98     WOC  Chile  1 – 1   Cameroon

Prediction: Cameroon 1-3 Chile

Abia Warriors v Plateau Utd @ Umuahia Stadium @4pm on June 18

With 14 matches left in the season, Plateau United sit five points clear at the head of the Nigeria Professional Football League with the motivation to stay in that position until the end.

The Kennedy Boboye-tutored side has shown resilience on the road, winning two and drawing five of the 12 away matches and will rely on the long throwing prowess of Daniel Itodo to do some damage in Umuahia. Warriors have been dogged at home- losing just once and keeping nine clean sheets and will be difficult to break down having conceded just thrice in 12 home matches.

Current Form: Abia Warriors [L-D-L-W-L]; Plateau Utd [W-W-L-W-D]

Head to head

29/01/17      NPF   Plateau United       2 – 1   Abia Warriors

03/07/16     NPF   Abia Warriors       0 – 1   Plateau United

06/03/16     NPF   Plateau United       1 – 1   Abia Warriors

Prediction: Abia Warriors 1-1 Plateau United


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