2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – Group A Preview and Predictions

The 2017 Confederations Cup kicks off this weekend and will give us an idea of what to expect from next year’s World Cup Finals, also due to be held in Russia.

The action begins in St. Petersburg on Saturday at the 68,000 seater Stadion Krestovskyi, the world’s most expensively constructed football arena. The first game will see host nation Russia take on Oceanic Football Confederation champions New Zealand.

The Russian national team have done little to catch the eye in recent years and will enter this tournament full of hope rather than expectation. In their defence, they are still finding their feet under new boss Stanislav Cherchesov who took over the reins less than a years ago. What’s more, the squad has been given a shake-up over the last 12 months with several youngsters being drafted in including Aleksandr Golovin, Aleksei Miranchuk, Georgi Dzhikiya and Ilya Kutepov.

Players such as Dzyuba and Smolov will be expected to get the goals, while some established names will line-up against alongside the promising young talent. This tournament will offer a good opportunity for the Russians to lay the groundwork for next summer’s main event.

New Zealand needed penalties to overcome Papua New Guinea in the OFC Nations Cup back in June of last year. But that was enough to book their place in this summer’s elite level event. As tournament minnows, the Kiwis will have plenty of neutrals on their side and they should not be underestimated by their Group A rivals.

While they may not make it out of the group, they could have a say in who progresses from Group A if they can steal appoint or two.

Former champions (1999) Mexico booked their place in this tournament by beating old foes USA in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup. Under Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio, they have only lost two matches but they have not always been convincing against weaker opposition. However, they do have a talented squad that is capable of performing when it counts.

European football fans will be familiar with the likes of Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Jonathan dos Santos, Marco Fabián, Andrés Guardado and veteran former Barcelona defender Rafael Márquez who will once again captain the side.

Portugal surprised many with their Euro 2016 win but are now marked as serious contenders here. In fact, it will be a surprise if they do not make the final. Their overall form since then has been decent, with seven wins from nine matches, although they did slip up against both Switzerland (0-2) and Sweden (2-3).

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo is the driving force behind the Portuguese national team and arrives here on the back of a trophy-laden 12 months, which has seen him return to his very best form.

Youngsters André and Bernardo Silva of AC Milan and Manchester City respectively will both be making their tournament debuts and will be expected to add further edge to the attack.

Group A Prediction:

Back Portugal to win the group at 4/5 with and Mexico to qualify at 4/7 both with Betfair.

Leave a Reply