Today sees the start of the 10th edition of the Confederations Cup in Russia. With less than a year to go until the 2018 World Cup, it is a chance for the winners of each FIFA tournament to play each other. Hosts Russia, who are only the third European nation to host the competition qualify automatically and kick off the tournament against Oceania Nations Cup winners New Zealand. The two will be joined in group A by Euro 2016 winners Portugal and CONCACAF Gold Cup winning side Mexico. Group B is made up of Asian Cup champions Australia, Copa America winners Chile, African Cup of Nations winners Cameroon and World champions Germany. Winners of the past three editions Brazil will miss the tournament for the first time since the mid-1990’s.
The matches will be played in four different stadiums across four cities: Saint Petersburg, Moscow, Kazan, and Sochi. The group games will take place between 18th – 25th June with the top two sides in each group progressing to the Semi-Finals. These will be played on 28th and 29th June with the final being played in Saint Petersburg on July 2nd.
Chelsea do not have any players featuring in the competition but there is plenty of involvement from the Premier League. West Ham’s Jose Fonte is in the 23 man squad for Portugal but was not a regular starter during the Euro’s last summer. Portugal have taken a strong squad with a lot of the winning side from France ’16 among them. Christiano Ronaldo will be captaining the side which also includes Premier League players Cedric (Southampton) and Manchester City’s new signing Bernardo Silva. They begin the tournament against Mexico before facing New Zealand and Russia. It should be a routine path to the Semi Final for Portugal with only Mexico posing a threat.
Group B looks to be more difficult with Chile bringing a strong squad with them and start amongst the favourites to win the tournament. They have in their squad the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal. In goal will likely be captain Claudio Bravo, who despite a difficult season for Man City generally performs for the national side.
World champions Germany have brought a young and inexperienced squad to Russia, only Julian Draxler has 30 or more caps. Arsenal and Liverpool both have representation in their squad with Shkodran Mustafi and Emre Can but it is thought that boss Lowe will be trailing a few different things in preparation for next year’s major competition. Australia, with a 37-year-old Tim Cahill, and Cameroon round out group B.
If I had to stick my neck out I would pick Portugal to win. They have a good group and if the Euros are anything to go by then they will grow into the tournament. Also with a player like Ronaldo who would love to win another competition, they have a big threat. I expect Mexico to join them in the Semis from group A. For me group B will go to Chile with Germany joining them in the Semis.