The Confederations Cup 2017 will witness its first major clash when European champions Portugal take on CONCACAF holders Mexico in a high-stake Group A game at the Kazan Arena in Kazan, Russia, on Sunday.
While Portugal are favourites to edge El Tri, they know the power of the underdog all too well, as the Selecção, who were massive underdogs at last year’s European Championships, stunned the world by lifting their maiden international title.
For Mexico, a shock upset or even a draw can prove to be crucial as they are likely to be competing with host Russia for second place in their group and if they can pick up anything from their opener, progressing to the knockouts will suddenly become easier.
There is optimism in the Portuguese camp, as in young guns Bernardo Silva and Andre Silva, they have the perfect foil for the seemingly-ageless Cristiano Ronaldo.
At long last, there are genuine talents from the Iberian nation and Ronaldo will feel a little less like Atlas, which will in turn allow him to play with more freedom.
While Bernardo Silva is an exciting attacking midfielder capable of playing anywhere across the forward line, Andre Silva is an out-and-out goalscorer and both have plenty of upside, considering they are just 21.
With an underrated midfield and competent defence, Portugal will have no excuses should they fail to clinch three points on Sunday especially if one considers they are unbeaten since September and are doing well in World Cup qualifying.
Coasting in the North American qualifying group for the World Cup, Mexico will be strengthening themselves to spring an upset against their European opponents.
In Guillermo Ochoa, they have a fine goalkeeper and with the wizened Rafael Marquez continuing to go strong despite nearing his fourth decade, they have plenty of experience at the back.
Former Barcelona starlet Giovani dos Santos is always a dangerous opponent and it is hard to forget his heroics for Mexico in the 2012 London Olympics, when El Tri stunned Brazil to win the gold medal. Up front, the likes of Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez aka Chicharito will look to continue their fruitful partnership and on the whole, this Mexico unit has a very well-balanced feel to it.
Hitting Portugal on the counter will be their gameplan, which suits the predatory instincts of Chicharito, who on his day, can stretch any defence.
Super Stat: Portugal and hosts Russia are making their Confederations Cup debut this year!