- Mexico need a point; victory alone would guarantee the hosts progress
- El Tri have only beaten Russia once before
- Saudi Arabian Fahad Al Mirdasi will referee the game
Group A leaders Mexico and the third-placed hosts meet at the Kazan Arena on Saturday 24 June at 18.00 (local time) in a match that could make or break both sides' chances of qualifying for the semi-finals. The picture is clear: a draw would be enough for El Tri to advance, while Russia need to win, or else their prospects will hinge on already-eliminated New Zealand defeating Portugal.
FIFA.com team reporter analysis
Martin Langer with Mexico
After making much heavier weather of New Zealand than anticipated, Mexico have the opportunity to send out a statement against Russia. Though they only need a point to reach the next round, their players and coach will be determined not to go through a similar ordeal as they did last time out, meaning that complacency should be out of the question. Juan Carlos Osorio will be forced to make changes in defence due to the injuries to Carlos Salcedo and Hector Moreno, but he is expected to revert to an otherwise full-strength line-up following his failed experiment in the last game.
Igor Borunov with Russia
The good news for the hosts is that the equation is simple and they have their fate in their own hands: victory would take them through to the semi-finals. Indeed, they are approaching this as a must-win, because no one harbours much hope of Portugal losing to New Zealand. After two rounds of matches, Stanislav Cherchesov and his players know all about their strengths and weaknesses, and the same can be said of Mexico. Their respective performances against the stunning backdrop of the Kazan Arena will determine who deserves to prolong their campaign.
What you need to know
Carlos Salcedo will be out for longer than just this encounter. The defender injured acromioclavicular-joint ligaments when he suffered a heavy fall against New Zealand and has had to leave the Mexico camp. He will continue his recovery back at his club, Eintracht Frankfurt.
Physical and mental fatigue has taken its toll on the Russians, who are having to contend with the added pressure of playing on home turf. Perhaps for that reason, Cherchesov has stressed that his team selection for the Mexico match is no straightforward matter. "I'll decide based on the opponents, but also by assessing what shape my players are in," he said in the wake of the loss to Portugal.
Mexico and Russia have met 12 times before. The most common result has been a draw, of which there have been seven, while the eastern Europeans have won four and the North Americans have collected a solitary victory. That came in a friendly at the Azteca in February 1986.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa; Diego Reyes, Nestor Araujo, Rafa Marquez, Miguel Layun; Jonathan dos Santos, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado; Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev; Aleksandr Samedov, Georgy Dzhikiya, Viktor Vasin, Fedor Kudryashov, Yury Zhirkov; Denis Glushakov, Aleksandr Erokhin, Aleksandr Golovin; Dmitry Poloz, Fedor Smolov.