The FIFA Confederations Cup is upon us again, this time being held in Brazil as a sort of warm-up for next year’s World Cup. Group B includes world champions Spain, Copa America champions Uruguay, Ocenia champions Tahiti and African champions Nigeria. TheHardTackle presents you three matches to watch out for, as well as why they should be eagerly anticipated.
Uruguay vs Nigeria
With Spain clearly the odds-on favorites to win this group, Uruguay and Nigeria are expected to fight it out for the other spot in the semifinals. The World Cup semifinalists are naturally the favorites, having the likes of Forlán and Suarez among others in their ranks, but Nigeria shouldn’t be underestimated at all; they might not have any huge names in their roster, but they are a very solid and experienced team, who will pounce on any opportunity given. Uruguay will have to be at the top of their game to avoid being in very serious trouble here.
This match will take place on Matchday 2, after Uruguay play Spain and Nigeria play Tahiti, so it’s very likely that the pressure will be on the Uruguayns to collect the three points in this match, unless they manage to shock Spain in their first match of the group. In all likelihood, this match will decide a place in the semifinals.
Prediction: Uruguay 2-1 Nigeria
Players to Watch Out For: Luis Suarez, Vicente Enyeama
Nigeria vs Tahiti
Almost everyone is unanimous in considering these two the weakest teams in the tournament and few give either of them a good chance of making it past the group stage. However, both teams make up for the lack of world class individual talent with an excellent work ethic and teamwork. With this match taking place in the 1st round, both teams will be desperately looking for a win that will put them in a position to potentially qualify. Nigeria are the clear favorites as Tahiti are widely tipped to be the whipping boys of this tournament, but they shouldn’t be underestimated at all, there’s a reason they made it so far. Still, you’d expect Nigeria to eventually prevail, even if turns out to be a very hard fought match – they will need to win this to have a chance to make it through.
Prediction: Nigeria 3-1 Tahiti
Players to Watch Out For: John Obi Mikel, Stanley Atani
Spain vs Uruguay
This is obviously the most eagerly anticipated match of the group, with the two odds-on favorites to advance facing each other in round 1. The world champions vs the South America champions, with absolutely no shortage of talent in either team – two strong candidates to the title, both here and next year at the World Cup. This match will constitute the first real test to Spain’s perceived invincibility after winning the Euro 2012. Are Spain still the team to beat or are they on the decline? This match will provide some answers either way.
Uruguay have been struggling far more than most expected in the South American qualifiers for the World Cup, but they remain a fearsome team, especially if Forlán peaks for the big event as he tends to. His trio with Suarez and Cavani might very well cause havoc in a big competition again, and with the team’s solidity in midfield and at the back, they are more than enough to be a match for any team in the world. This could very well turn out to be one of the best, if not the best, match in the entire tournament.
Prediction: Spain 1-1 Uruguay
Players to Watch Out For: Andrés Iniesta, Luis Suarez