2013 Confederations Cup : Preview

Kicking Off the 2012 Confederations Cup - Michael Regan

LETS GET READY TO SAMBA FOOTY!!!

This Saturday the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off with Brazil squaring off against Japan. With the competition continuing throughout the following two weeks, let's take a glance at the national teams squaring off in this competition.

GROUP A

Japan (Ryan)

The AFC champions come into this competition in the most competitive group, and would be my dark horse pick for winning it all. Buoyed by a plethora of young stand out talents like Shinji Kagawa, this team heavy on talent plying its trade in the Bundesliga, may surprise everyone given the recent difficulties of the Brazilian and Mexican national teams.

I don't really need to tell any of you about the danger and quality of Shinji Kagawa seeing as we were on the receiving end of his stellar work for several seasons. Shinji Okazaki, the VfB Stuttgart striker is another amazing talent to watch on this team, given his introduction into the Stuttgart side in the DFB Pokal caused a dramatic swing and made that side much more lethal in the final 30 minutes against Bayern.

Mexico (Phillip)

Oh, World Cup Qualifying has not been going to plan to date for Mexico. After six matches, Chepo de la Torre's side is struggling. They've only managed three goals and have suffered three 0-0 draws at the might Estadio Azteca. In fact, several of their draws would be losses without the spectacular goalkeeping from Jose Corono. The Cruz Azul goalkeeper has that position on lockdown at this time.

Where are the offensive problems generating? Everywhere, really. The midfield isn't creating enough opportunities for the forwards, and the forwards are not capitalizing on the chances that they do receive. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez has been especially wasteful in front of goal. Yes, he does have two of Mexico's three goals in the qualifying, but I imagine he may have more if he spent more time focusing on the goal rather than badgering the referees. Is it time for Chepo to turn his eyes to Giovani dos Santos? Yes. It's beyond time. Gio started the last qualifier on the bench against Costa Rica, and when he did come on the field, he had minimal impact.

Mexico generally play better against non-CONCACAF teams, so it will be interesting to keep an eye on them in this tough group. They could crash and burn out by taking zero points, or they could put together a few impressive performances and advance out of this group.

Italy (Phillip)

The Italians put together a surprise run to the final of last year's European Championship. The venerable Andrea Pirlo controlled the flow of every Italy match, and while they couldn't quite knock Spain off their perch atop the continent, they made sure everyone knew that they were "back".

Mario Balotelli will lead the Italian's front line, but Alberto Gilardino and Stephan El Shaarawy will be on hand if Balotelli starts to crack under the pressure a little bit. Italy will need a strong performance out of their midfield in order to get out of this tough group. Brazil, Mexico and Japan are all tough opponents, and Italy will need to be at their best to beat them.

Back in goal for the Italians will be Gianluigi Buffon. If there's one goalkeeper in this entire tournament that I want to put my trust in to carry my team to the promised land, it's none other than Gigi Buffon.

Brazil (Ryan)

The samba footy masters host this year's Confederations Cup in preparation for next year's main event. They come in rapidly dropping down the FIFA rankings, the result of some rather poor performances since the end of World Cup 2010, despite possessing a near disgusting wealth of world class players, including our very own Dante and Luis Gustavo. The last few weeks have seen them perform relatively mundanely, so this is clearly a team somehow not clicking. Luis Gustavo has featured prominently in both contests, while Dante had a brief cameo in a 3-0 win against a less than optimal French side. They definitely have their work cut out for them if they wish to impress their nation as Group A is decidedly the more difficult of the two.

Group A Rosters

Brazil National Team

Japan National Team

Italy National Team

Mexico National Team

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

1

JEFFERSON

1

Eiji KAWASHIMA

1

Gianluigi BUFFON

1

Guillermo OCHOA

12

JULIO CESAR

12

Shusaku NISHIKAWA

12

Salvatore SIRIGU

12

Jose CORONA

22

DIEGO CAVALIERI

23

Shuichi GONDA

13

Federico MARCHETTI

23

Alfredo TALAVERA

Defenders

Defenders

Defenders

Defenders

2

DANI ALVES

2

Masahiko INOHA

2

Christian MAGGIO

2

Francisco RODRIGUEZ

3

THIAGO SILVA

3

Gotoku SAKAI

3

Giorgio CHIELLINI

3

Carlos SALCIDO

4

DAVID LUIZ

5

Yuto NAGATOMO

4

Davide ASTORI

4

Diego REYES

6

MARCELO

6

Atsuto UCHIDA

5

Mattia DE SCIGLIO

5

Jesus MOLINA

13

DANTE

15

Yasuyuki KONNO

15

Andrea BARZAGLI

13

Severo MEZA

14

FILIPE LUIS

16

Yuzo KURIHARA

19

Leonardo BONUCCI

15

Hector MORENO

15

JEAN

21

Hiroki SAKAI

20

Ignazio ABATE

20

Jorge TORRES

16

REVER

22

Maya YOSHIDA

Midfielders

21

Hiram MIER

Midfielders

Midfielders

6

Antonio CANDREVA

22

Gerardo FLORES

5

FERNANDO

4

Keisuke HONDA

7

Alberto AQUILANI

Midfielders

8

HERNANES

7

Yasuhito ENDO

8

Claudio MARCHISIO

6

Gerardo TORRADO

17

LUIZ GUSTAVO

8

Hiroshi KIYOTAKE

16

Daniele DE ROSSI

7

Pablo BARRERA

18

PAULINHO

10

Shinji KAGAWA

18

Riccardo MONTOLIVO

10

Giovani DOS SANTOS

Forwards

13

Hajime HOSOGAI

21

Andrea PIRLO

11

Javier AQUINO

7

LUCAS

14

Kengo NAKAMURA

22

Emanuele GIACCHERINI

16

Hector HERRERA

9

FRED

17

Makoto HASEBE

23

Alessandro DIAMANTI

17

Jesus ZAVALA

10

NEYMAR

19

Takashi INUI

Forwards

18

Andres GUARDADO

11

OSCAR

20

Hideto TAKAHASHI

9

Mario BALOTELLI

Forwards

19

HULK

Forwards

10

Sebastian GIOVINCO

8

Angel REYNA

20

BERNARD

9

Shinji OKAZAKI

11

Alberto GILARDINO

9

Aldo DE NIGRIS

21

LEANDRO DAMIAO

11

Mike HAVENAAR

14

Stephan EL SHAARAWY

14

Javier HERNANDEZ

23

JADSON

18

Ryoichi MAEDA

17

Alessio CERCI

19

Raul JIMENEZ

GROUP B

Uruguay (Phillip)

They're easily the second most talented team in their group, and you're hard-pressed to find a more talented attacking trio than what the Uruguayans will throw at you. Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, and Edinson Cavani are as talented as they come and should lead this team out of the group stage of this tournament.

It's tough to not see Uruguay advancing out of the group. The focus will be on their defense. They've struggled thus far in CONMEBOL World Cup Qualifying conceding 21 goals in only 12 matches. It starts at the back with Fernando Muslera. The back four in front of him will likely be Diego Lugano, Diego Godin, Maxi Pereira, and Martin Caceres. They need to exhibit better communication and (Let's just be blunt about it.) better defensive ability.

We've seen this side hit a hot streak before, and it's possible that it could happen again in Brazil.

Nigeria (Ryan)

The recently crowned African Champions come into this competition paired up in the weakest group. The key to their performance in this competition is going to revolve around the performance of Chelsea star John Obi Mikel and how effectively he can control the center of the pitch. If he has a bad competition, Nigeria is going to be eaten alive by the potent attacks of Uruguay and Spain. That's how simple the equation for Nigeria is.

Spain (Phillip)

The reigning European (two time) and World Champion Spain are the favorites heading into the 2013 Confederations Cup. They'll be expected to win this group. However, we all remember the 2009 version of this event when the United States eliminated Spain in the semifinals. While the Confederations Cup isn't the World Cup or European Championship, Spain will want to win this competition to add to their trophy haul in recent years.

The rumor has been building that Victor Valdes will get the start in goal over stalwart Iker Casillas. It's been a very down year overall for San Iker, and it looks like it will continue negatively for him. Otherwise, you're looking at your normal Spain squad except for the likelihood of Javi Martinez replacing the injured Xabi Alonso. If Martinez can duplicate his Bayern Munich form for Spain, there's a possibility that the side will be even stronger in this event.

If they can find goals from David Villa, Fernando Torres, Pedro, or Roberto Salgado, then they will be fine. The depth is there at every position for Spain to make a deep run in this tournament and probably win the entire thing. Vincente del Bosque is spoiled in his choice of talent. Expect a good showing.

Tahiti (Ryan)

The OFC representative for this year's Confederations Cup is Tahiti. The land of paradise, whose squad is composed of entirely domestic non-professionals with the exception of striker Marama Vahirua who plays his trade for Panathinaikos in Greece. The 33 year old is their best player who has had a successful career at various French sides, before moving to Greece this year. Despite this experience, this represents his first international appearance for Tahiti.

Pooled into the same group with Spain, Uruguay, and Nigeria, Tahiti have almost no chance at advancing, let alone potentially winning a match. This means we should be rooting for them all the way as this is quite possibly the greatest moment in many of these player's lives, and that alone is worth celebrating.

Group B Rosters

Nigeria National Team

Tahiti National Team

Uruguay National Team

Spain National Team

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers

1

Vincent ENYEAMA

1

Mikael ROCHE

1

Fernando MUSLERA

1

Iker CASILLAS

16

Austine EJIDE

22

Gilbert MERIEL

12

Juan CASTILLO

12

Victor VALDES

23

Chigozie AGBIM

23

Xavier SAMIN

23

Martin SILVA

23

Pepe REINA

Defenders

Defenders

Defenders

Defenders

2

Godfrey OBOABONA

4

Teheivarii LUDIVION

2

Diego LUGANO

2

Raul ALBIOL

3

Uwa ECHIEJILE

5

Tamatoa WAGEMANN

3

Diego GODIN

3

Gerard PIQUE

5

Efe AMBROSE

8

Stephane FAATIARAU

4

Sebastian COATES

5

Cesar AZPILICUETA

6

Azubuike EGWUEKWE

10

Nicolas VALLAR

13

Matias AGUIRREGARAY

15

SERGIO RAMOS

12

Solomon KWAMBE

12

Edson LEMAIRE

16

Maximiliano PEREIRA

17

Alvaro ARBELOA

21

Francis BENJAMIN

19

Vincent SIMON

19

Andres SCOTTI

18

Jordi ALBA

22

Kenneth OMERUO

20

Yannick VERO

22

Martin CACERES

19

Nacho MONREAL

Midfielders

Midfielders

Midfielders

Midfielders

4

John OGU

6

Henri CAROINE

5

Walter GARGANO

4

Javier MARTINEZ

10

John Obi MIKEL

7

Heimano BOUREBARE

6

Alvaro PEREIRA

6

INIESTA

13

Fegor OGUDE

11

Stanley ATANI

7

Cristian RODRIGUEZ

8

XAVI

17

Ogenyi ONAZI

14

Rainui AROITA

8

Sebastian EGUREN

10

Cesc FABREGAS

18

Emeka EZE

15

Lorenzo TEHAU

14

Nicolas LODEIRO

16

Sergio BUSQUETS

19

Sunday MBA

16

Ricky AITAMAI

15

Diego PEREZ

20

Santi CAZORLA

Forwards

17

Jonathan TEHAU

17

Egidio AREVALO

22

Jesus NAVAS

7

Ahmed MUSA

Forwards

18

Gaston RAMIREZ

Forwards

8

Brown IDEYE

2

Alvin TEHAU

20

Alvaro GONZALEZ

7

David VILLA

9

Joseph AKPALA

3

Marama VAHIRUA

Forwards

9

Fernando TORRES

11

Muhammad GAMBO

9

Teaonui TEHAU

9

Luis SUAREZ

11

PEDRO

14

Anthony UJAH

13

Steevy CHONG HUE

10

Diego FORLAN

13

Juan MATA

15

Michael BABATUNDE

18

Yohann TIHONI

11

Abel HERNANDEZ

14

Roberto SOLDADO

20

Nnamdi ODUAMADI

21

Samuel HNANYINE

21

Edinson CAVANI

21

DAVID SILVA

Viewing

USA: ESPN (TV) and ESPN3 (Online Streaming)

UK: BBC (TV)

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