The Confederations Cup gets underway in 3 weeks and there are few interesting things about this tournament. Obviously the looming match up of Italy and Brazil in the group being one of the matches to watch. The story that I am most interested in however is who will advance along with Spain from Group A, in fact I have even added a poll to see what you think.
The groups in this tournament are quite lopsided in Group A we have the European Champions Spain, the Asian Champions Iraq, the Oceanic Champions New Zealand (Australia is now considered an Asian Country if you were wondering what happened to them) and the Hosts South Africa. In Group B we find the World Champions Italy, the North American & Caribbean Champions USA, the South American Champions Brazil, and the African Champions Egypt.
I have no doubt that Spain will be top of Group A. The question is which team will join them? It could really be any of the three. South Africa has been very poor of late, if you haven't been following, they lost out of the World Cup Qualifying (which doubled as African Cup of Nations Qualifying which is why they were participating) and thus will miss the African Cup of Nations in Angola. This is a huge blow as it means that the Confederation Cup are their only competitive matches until the World Cup. In a similar position is New Zealand they have already won the Oceania World Cup qualifying and await a playoff opponent from Asia in October. It has been a long time since New Zealand has played some strong opponents and making it out of this group will give them a lot of confidence going into their playoff match up. Iraq were unlucky to not advance to the final round of the World Cup qualifying. They will be focused on this tournament as a chance to brighten spirits back home, much the same way that their victory in Asia did.
I have been thinking about this for some time, and I keep switching between Iraq and New Zealand as the team to advance with Spain, conveniently for us football fans they meet in the final group game that is likely to decide who progresses to the next stage. But seeing as how I should pick someone I will stick with my gut and go with New Zealand.
Group B is also a bit difficult to figure out as Brazil and Egypt haven't been too consistent of late. To illustrate this point Brazil drew 0-0 with Bolivia in World Cup Qualifying. What is that you say it was the Altitude? Nope it must have been the attitude as the match was in Brazil! Egypt seems to have two different teams, the team that dominates in the African Cup of Nations and the team that doesn't get results anywhere else. Sadly for fans of the Pharaohs this will be another disappointing tournament as I think that Egypt will be the whipping boy of Group B and return to Cairo with 0 points. The way I see it unfolding for the rest of the teams is a draw between Italy and the US, Brazil beating the Americans, and Brazil and Italy battling to a draw. This means that Italy and Brazil advance to the semis.
In the Semis I have Spain playing Italy in another great match up, I see the Spaniards advancing to the final. The other semi pits New Zealand against Brazil, this is the end of the road for New Zealand (if New Zealand pull off a shock here it would likely be the end of the road for Dunga) setting up a great Spain - Brazil final.
In the final I think that Spain will win and cement themselves as the favourites to win next summer at the World Cup.