Confederations Cup: A Tournament of Champions

2017.06.17

The FIFA Confederations Cup is also known as the tournament of champions-as all the continents’ winners are represented. The tournament being the second most recognised FIFA Tournament after the FIFA World Cup kicks off tomorrow in Russia. Below is a preview of all the participating teams

Traditionally a dry run ahead of the World Cup, the Confederations Cup has developed its own history through the years. Indeed, as the 10th edition approaches, one of its quirks is that no team that has won the Confederations Cup has gone on to win the World Cup a year later.

Ironically, defending champions Brazil haven’t qualified for the eight-team tournament, which sees host Russia joined by the six winners of the FIFA confederation championships plus World Cup champions, Germany.

The matches will be played in four different venues in four major Russian cities: Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan and Sochi.

In the group stage, starting this weekend, each team will play three games in a group of four, with the winners and runners-up from each group advancing to the knockouts. In the next stage, matches will be on a straight knockout basis, played as semifinals, and ending with the final match on July 2.

 Russia

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How they qualified:  Russia qualified by virtue of being  hosts of the 2018 World Cup next summer.

FIFA ranking: 64

Star player: Igor Akinfeev – Captain and goalkeeper is a fine shot-stopper and the main man for the hosts.

One to watch: Aleksandr Golovin – CSKA Moscow midfielder is being tracked by Arsenal and has the attributes to make the step up.

Manager: Stanislav Cherchesov – Vastly experienced coach has been in charge for less than a year and has been set a target of reaching the 2018 World Cup semifinals. A very, very tough task.

Chance of winning: 20% – The hosts may do better than most expect, but getting out of this group as one of the top two is still a struggle.

 New Zealand

How they qualified: They beat Papa New Guinea on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw in the 2016 OFC Nations Cup Final.

FIFA ranking: 95

Star player: Chris Wood – Top scorer in England’s second-tier at Leeds United, the powerful forward could be set for a move to the PL. A proper handful. 19 goals in 49 games for the All Whites.

One to watch: Ryan Thomas – He plays for PEC Zwolle in Holland and is a creative, fast attacking player who should supply Wood with plenty of chances.

Manager: Anthony Hudson – Young English coach has long been lauded as one of the brightest in the game. Just 36 years old, this could be his big moment but New Zealand are the heavy underdogs.

Chance of winning: 5% – Tough to see them getting out of this group, especially without the injury Winston Reid.

 Portugal 

How they qualified: Through their shock win at EURO 2016 last summer, their first-ever major trophy.

FIFA ranking: 8

Star player: Cristiano Ronaldo – Yeah, not a surprise. After leading Real Madrid to back-to-back Champions League titles, a La Liga crown and a EURO 2016 title with Portugal in the past 12 months, Ronaldo is hungry for more goals and glory.

One to watch: Andre Silva – After completing his big money move to AC Milan, Silva is ready to shine. He has seven goals in eight games for Portugal.

Manager: Fernando Santos – Experienced Portuguese boss who led the team to a superb defensive display at EURO 2016.

Chance of winning: 40% – Will progress from the group easily.

 Mexico     

How they qualified: By winning the 2015 Gold Cup they had a one-off CONCACAF Cup game against the USA (2013 Gold Cup winners) in November 2015 which they won 3-2 after extra time, thus making them champs of CONCACAF and sealing a Confederations Cup spot.

FIFA ranking: 14

Star player: Hector Herrera – Seems to get better each and every year and he will drive El Tri on from midfield.

One to watch: Hirving Lozano – Man City are rumored to be interested in signing the youngster and if the winger has a fine tournament, plenty more top clubs in Europe will take a chance on his mercurial talents.

Manager: Juan Carlos Osorio – Meticulous and disciplined, Osorio will make Mexico tough to beat and they have the attacking talent to counter quickly.

Chance of winning: 30% – Should progress from the group, then anything else is a bonus.

 Cameroon

How they qualified: By winning the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, beating Egypt 2-1 in the final.

FIFA ranking: 32

Star player: Vincent Aboubakar – Besiktas striker scored the winner in the AFCON final and has 16 goals in 56 games. Bags of pace and experience.

One to watch: Fabrice Ondoa – Goalkeeper is just 21 years old but already has 31 caps to his name. A real star for the future.

Manager: Hugo Broos – Experienced Belgian manager who led the Indomitable Lions to success at AFCON 2017.

Chance of winning: 30% – They will do well to get out of this group but if they do they can keep things tight and cause a few upsets. Darkhorse.

 Chile

How they qualified: Winning 2015 Copa American on home soil by beating Argentina on penalty kicks in Santiago. Adding the Copa America Centenario for good measure  in 2016 too.

FIFA ranking: 4

Star player: Alexis Sanchez – One of the top forwards in the world right now, scored 24 goals and added 10 assists in the PL for Arsenal. A wanted man who will put on a show to drive up his wages and transfer fee. Just watch.

One to watch: Not exactly an up and coming star, but Marcelo Diaz is so often overlooked while Sanchez, Vidal, Bravo and Medel steal the limelight. Diaz holds everything together.

Manager: Juan Antonio Pizzi – Former Spanish international has had ups and downs but his team are dynamic and experienced. If they qualify for the World Cup next summer (slight qualifying struggles continue) they may be among the favorites.

Chance of winning: 60% – Clear favorites for this tournament after Germany sent a young, inexperienced squad.

Australia

How they qualified: Winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, beating South Korea 2-1 in extra time in 2015.

FIFA ranking: 48

Star player: Tim Cahill – Okay, he’s 37 years old but Cahill still comes up with the goods when the Socceroos need him. 48 goals in 96 games.

One to watch: Aaron Mooy – An absolute beast in Huddersfield’s promotion push. Man City man will likely have plenty of loan offers in the PL this summer. Energetic and creative midfielder.

Manager: Angelos Postecoglou – In charge of Australia for almost four years, Postecoglou has built a solid core which has taken the AFC by storm.

Chance of winning: 10% – Will struggle to progress from the group.

Germany

How they qualified: By winning the 2014 World Cup.

FIFA ranking: 3

Star player: Julian Draxler – Named captain of this young German squad, the PSG attacker will be the go-to guy for Die Mannschaft.

One to watch: Sandro Wagner – Three goals in two games for Germany say it all. Wagner is looking to continue his fine season after helping Hoffenheim finish fourth in the Bundesliga.

Manager: Joachim Low – A really intriguing squad selection from Low who has left Ozil, Kroos, Muller, Neuer, Hummels, Boateng and many more experienced players at home. Time to see if his next crops of youngster have what it takes.

Chance of winning: 50% – Will progress from the group and this young German team will gain valuable experience from a big clash with Portugal or Mexico in the semifinals.