Friday, June 14, 2013

Confederations Cup Breakdown: Group B

And here is the fun-filled conclusion to my two-part preview!

Pre-Tournament Biases: Group B

Team analysis:


Does this aging Spain squad still have enough to win it all? It seems like they have the best chance. A team of proven talents with some fresh blood infused. However, Spain have looked somewhat beatable. More so now, at least, than over the past five years.

The shocking manner of the Champions League exits of Barcelona and Real Madrid combined with the fierce rivalry between the two sides (and their respective Spanish players) are signs that the best may be coming to an end. That doesn't mean it will just yet, or at all.

The entire starting lineup, essentially. Their depth doesn't look too bad, either. Barcelona trio Xavi, Iniesta, and Busquets have been playing together for years. That type of stability just doesn't exist in the modern game, it is something that no other team in the tournament can boast.

Do I have to choose? Right fullback. Azpilicueta is a new face; he had an okay season at Chelsea, but he isn't anything to brag about yet. I have never been sold on Arbeloa. Overall, these two are about average at this point in time, but Azpilicueta has potential to be a solid starter for the next few tournament runs.

Player to Watch:
Pick one. Let's say Xavi, for argument's sake (and because we happen to share a birthday). He's getting up there in age (33) but is still a class act. Watch for him to pick out twice as many perfect passes in Xabi Alonso's absence.

Spain win their fourth major trophy in five years.


The Copa America champions and World Cup semi-finalists have struggled in CONMEBEL qualifying. Currently sitting in fifth place, El Celeste are five points off the pace of the automatic qualifying spots. Like Mexico, this tournament could serve as a turning point in the qualifying campaign.

Luis Suarez, Diego Forlan, and Edinson Cavani form a strike force that every other country in the world would be jealous of. Forlan is the all-time leading goal scorer for Uruguay - one ahead of the 27 year old Suarez. Cavani is, arguably, among the top five strikers on the globe right now.

Looking hard at the midfield, no names really stand out. My man Nicolas Lodeiro will be one of two players representing the mighty Botafogo this month, but he doesn't exactly stack up with what Spain has to offer.

Player to Watch:
Because you never know what he will do, keep your eye on Suarez. Past highlights include a spectacular save to keep Uruguay in the 2010 World Cup, and a career-high two vampirical bites - one at Ajax and the most recent at Liverpool. Just offensive.

Uruguay struggles against Nigeria, but earns second place in the group. They go on to finish third.


Just happy to be here, Tahiti became the first Pacific island to win the OFC Nations Cup in 2012. They never even faced Oceania heavyweights New Zealand, who were knocked out by New Calendonia in the semi-finals of the tournament. The Kiwis' loss is Tahiti's gain as they gear up for their ever first major FIFA tournament.

Two strengths really stick out to me with Tahiti:
1. Having forwards with uncustomary forward numbers (2 - Alvin Tehau, 3 - Marama Vahirua).
2. Blood being thicker than water, with four members of the Tehau family on the squad. Twins Alvin and Lorenzo join their brother Jonathan, and cousin Teaonui in their quest for the Cup.

Not having any household names on the team... yet.

Player to Watch:
Marama Vahirua - Tahiti's only professional player who plays for Panthrakikos FC in Greece. Interestingly enough, has never represented his national team.

The most spectacular Socca Haka you will ever see.


The final country to qualify for the tournament, via the 2013 African Cup of Nations. Nigeria were surprise winners of the tournament, with their own Football Federation not believing in the team (specifically, the coach). 

This team is made up from many players of the Nigerian domestic league, meaning a lot of unknown quantities. They should be interesting to watch.

The fact that they are little known. Teams may underestimate the Super Eagles, which would be a mistake.

You don't want to kickoff your preparations for a major tournament in this manner. Nigeria players threatened to strike after not receiving bonuses. Player mutiny? Smells of France 2010: an early exit.

Player to Watch:
John Obi Mikel. One of the most experienced players on this Nigeria team, he will be looked to for leadership. I don't necessarily think he is the man for that job, but he's all they have.

Second place should be a battle between Nigeria and Uruguay. Because of in-house instability, Nigeria goes home after the group stage.

Final Prediction:

1. Spain
2. Uruguay
3. Nigeria
4. Tahiti

Confederations Cup Random Thought:

There are a ton of Chelsea players in this tournament: Cesar Azpilicueta, David Luiz, Juan Mata, John Obi Mikel, Oscar, and Fernando Torres. The most notable absence from the Europa League champions: 
Bring Ramires back to the Seleção!

No comments:

Post a Comment