Host Russia will face a stern test of their credentials when they play European champions Portugal in a high-stakes Group A clash of the 2017 Confederations Cup on Otkrytiye Arena on Thursday. 

Russia trumped New Zealand 2-0 in their group opener on Sunday, but Portugal weren't as lucky, allowing Mexico to come back in a dramatic game that finished 2-2 to leave Group A nicely poised. 

While on paper there Russia are no match for their fellow Europeans, no games are won on paper and should they nick an early goal, there will be immense pressure on Portugal, who cannot afford to drop any more points. 


The game against New Zealand was largely one-way traffic but the Russians will have to accept that against Portugal, the tables will be turned. 

Their 5-3-2 system enables them to defend with numbers and as they look to stifle Cristiano Ronaldo and co, they will have to hit the Iberians on counters as possession will be hard to come by on Thursday.

Fedor Smolov got off the mark in the first game and will take heart from the fact that Portugal’s defence has never been their strong point. Giving him support from midfield will be grizzled veteran Denis Glushakov and rising star Aleksandr Golovin, two players who had bright moments in the game against New Zealand.

What they are saying: “We’re preparing for the game as thoroughly as we can. Of course, they have one of the best players in the world in their line-up, but I believe we need to focus on our own performance," said Russia striker Fedor Smolov (as per

Injury absentees: None

Suspension Alert: None


Fernando Santos opted to bench the in-form Andre Silva in place of Nani, for the first game against Mexico and the decision backfired as the Valencia winger was ineffectual until Silva replaced him in the latter stages. 

Silva was bright when he came on and Santos has a crucial selection dilemma on his hands as the likes of Bernardo Silva are also knocking on the door. Who Santos choses to start alongside star man and captain Cristiano Ronaldo in attack may prove crucial in determining which way this game swings. 

While their midfield was decent by and large, it was their defence that looked vulnerable on many occasions and Santos will seek to shore things up at the back for Russia will be fired up from the get-go. 

What they are saying: “This is a great team. We have a fantastic team spirit and that is what is making us win games, asserted Portugal winger Ricardo Quaresma (as per"

Injury absentees: None

Suspension Alert: None

Super Stat: Thursday's clash will be Russia captain and goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev's 100th international appearance!