The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup begins this Saturday, as the champions of various regions will face one another in what has become a “test run” for the World Cup’s host nation. This year’s honour will belong to Russia, and preparations for next summer’s tournament will be on full display this coming weekend.
2017 FIFA Confederations Cup: Group A Preview
A total of eight teams will participate, and the dynamics of Group A will certainly be intriguing as the opening stages play out. Each side will bring unique elements in terms of quality and skill, while the pressure will certainly be on the competition’s hosts to advance to the knockout rounds.
The tournament begins its journey in St. Petersburg, as Russia take on New Zealand. With a unique opportunity to build momentum towards next year’s FIFA World Cup, expectations for the hosts will be set extremely high.
A rich footballing history when considering the play of the Soviet Union national team, Russia has failed to make a significant impact at major tournaments.
Manager Stanislav Cherchesov will be counting on a stern defence and the outstanding form of goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to lead the squad to success.
The defending champions of Oceania will find a difficult task in front of them in Group A, and will need the absolute best from their players in order to earn points in the group stage.
Leeds United striker Chris Wood guides a young and energetic line-up that will look to work harder than the opposition in winning the ball and making the most of possession.
Their group boasts too much quality to assume that New Zealand will advance to the semi-final stage, but a key result in even one of their matches could shape the knockout-round positions and seeding.
The Euro 2016 title-holders come into the Confederations Cup for the first time, and Portugal will want to make the most of their trip to Russia.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Rui Patricio will want to repeat last summer’s success, and have immense quality in their attack.
Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph featured a frustrating group stage, with three draws in three matches. Confederations Cup glory may require more early in the competition.
CONCACAF’s only winner in the history of the Confederations Cup (1999), Mexico enter Group A with a squad aiming to bring an overwhelming approach to their opposition.
Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos highlight a line-up that can compete with the world’s best out on the pitch.
Currently sitting first in CONCACAF’s final round of World Cup qualifying for next summer, El Tri look to carry their strong form across the pond to Russia beginning Sunday against Portugal.