Confederations Cup 2013: Fascinating Storylines Ahead Of The Main Event Next Year

The Confederations Cup will be a welcome injection of international football for fans who are preparing for the upcoming 2013/2014 season.

In June, nations from the FIFA regions of Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and Central America and South America will descend on Brazil in order to compete in the curtain opener for the 2014 World Cup finals.

The teams from Group A and B will be taking part in the competition with varying objectives and with varying degrees of motivation. Some are using it as a brilliant opportunity for silverware, others see it as a chance to test tactics and players and some see it as a huge inconvenience.

Group A

Brazil

The five time World Cup winners and competition hosts haven’t played competitive football since their loss to Paraguay in the Copa America in July 2011. They have spent the last couple of years playing friendlies against a huge selection of nations of varying quality, failing to achieve victory over England, Germany, Italy or Russia. Brazilian manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has announced a squad which has 12 home based players and a large number of younger players, without the likes of Kaka and Ronaldinho. It is seen by the Selecao as an opportunity to grow a squad capable of victory in 2014.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 11/8.

Japan

Alberto Zaccheroni’s side, ranked 30th in the FIFA rankings, go into the tournament on a high as they sit atop of their World Cup qualifying group and are certain to take a spot in 2014. Zaccheroni has created a strong attacking side and has implemented all his expertise from 27 years managing in Italy, in which he took charge of Internazionale, Milan and Juventus. It paid off brilliantly in 2011 when the Japanese were victorious in the Asian Cup and they will hope to have a successful tournament in preparation for next year’s World Cup.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 33/1.

Mexico

La Verde has followed success in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in 2011 with a poor World Cup qualifying campaign in which they have drawn all of their three games. Manager Jose Manuel de la Torre has announced a squad, which like himself, have nurtured their talent at home in Mexico. Torre won three Mexican titles and firmly believes in the quality of the Primera Division de Mexico for creating national team players. The front line will be led by Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez who will be a huge part of the team as they enter the Confederations Cup.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 11/1.

Italy

The Italians played brilliantly at Euro 2012 and surprised many fans as they managed to reach the final before losing 4-0 to the Spanish. The Azzurri are clearly taking the Confederations Cup seriously and announced a squad containing players such as Buffon, Pirlo, Chiellini and Balotelli (the squad contains all but one member of the starting line-up for the final against Spain in 2012). Cesare Prandelli has created a squad which sits atop of their World Cup qualifying group and who recently drew 2-2 with their Group A competitors, Brazil.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 7/1.

Group B

Spain

FIFA’s top ranked team and their World Coach of the Year Vicente del Bosque have signalled their intent to win the Confederations Cup after failing to reach the final in 2009. They took a strong team to the previous competition and this time around del Bosque said he will choose players who have “played a very hard season”. The Spanish national team benefits from the incredible depth of talent they have to choose from and will look to experiment with some new players, with many predicting that Swansea City’s Michu will be called up.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 7/4.

Uruguay

La Celeste secured a place at the Confederations Cup by winning the Copa America in 2011 and many predict this summer may be their only chance of competing in Brazil. As it stands in World Cup qualifying they will not be taking part in 2014 after only winning three of their 11 games. Their terrible defensive record (joint worst in South American qualifying) is balanced with an incredible strike force of Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani. Manager Oscar Tabarez has guided the team over a successful World Cup in 2010 and Copa America in 2011 and believes that this summer’s competition is a chance to blood in some players and experiment.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 10/1.

Tahiti

The lowest ranked nation at the Confederations Cup this summer has found their way to Brazil by their surprise victory in the OFC Nations Cup in 2012. After the final their manager Eddy Etaeta said that he did not believe the “players are now not really aware what we face at the Confederations Cup”. Etaeta’s squad is mostly comprised of amateur players plying their trade in the Tahiti First Division and taking on the world class professionals in Group B will be a huge challenge. This summer will be the team’s only chance of playing in Brazil after losing five games in Oceania World Cup qualifying and they will be looking to take as much as they can from the experience.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 2000/1.

Nigeria

The Super Eagles and their manager Stephen Keshi have had an extremely successful relationship, achieving victory in the 2013 African Cup of Nations and reaching the top of their World Cup qualifying group. The squad announced for the competition is an extremely strong one with stars such as Victor Moses, Emmanuel Emenike, John Obi Mikel and Vincent Enyeama. However, Nigerian technical director Shaibu Amodu has stated that World Cup qualification matches are hugely important and doesn’t believe there is any value in what he called “a World Cup dress rehearsal”.

Their odds of overall victory at the Confederations Cup are 33/1.