The 2017 Confederations Cup is right around the corner.
The pre-tournament before the 2018 World Cup will feature some of the best teams in the world. Here we present you a comprehensive preview of Group B, which features Germany, Chile, Australia, and Cameroon. The reigning World Cup holders are slight favourites on paper. However, Chile are a darkhorse to win the tournament based on their recent international results.
There has been a lot of talk regarding Germany and their participation in the Confederations Cup. Die Mannschaft arrived at the tournament as the reigning World Cup holders, and they were massive favourites to win the Cup until Joachim Low decided to employ an alternative squad. Considering players such as Manuel Neuer, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos were coming off long seasons, the tactician decided not to call them up.
Instead, the Germans will feature something that could be considered their “B” team. But if you look at the players, we can realise this is still one of the best teams on Russian soil. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen, Shkodran Mustafi, Julian Draxler, and Emre Can tend to feature regularly in the squad, and they will be the ones who will carry the load in the competition. Meanwhile, young players such as Leroy Sane, Joshua Kimmich, and Timo Werner will get a golden chance to settle into a future role within the National Team.
In fact, Werner and Leon Goretzka are two players we recommend watching from Germany. The RB Leipzig striker was one of the top scorers in the Bundesliga last season, and has all the makings of being a goalscoring machine for years to come. Meanwhile, the Schalke 04 playmaker is considered one of the best young playmakers in Europe. He will get an incredible chance to pull the strings of the German side, and at times all eyes of the world will be over him.
Few teams in the world have been as successful as Chile of late. La Roja arrived to this tournament after winning the 2015 Copa America. But they also won the title in the 2016 Copa America Centenario played on United States. There is no question they can be considered title contenders.
Manager Juan Antonio Pizzi has done a good job to maintain the structure of Jorge Sampaoli, and they arguably have one of the top squads in the competition. However, fans and supporters are patiently waiting for the recovery of Claudio Bravo. The Manchester City goalkeeper has not been able to recover from the hamstring injury he sustained late in the season. He has not been ruled for the tournament, but as of this writing, he is doubtful to play in the tournament’s debut against Cameroon on Sunday.
There are several players worth watching in La Roja in this tournament. Alexis Sanchez is one goal away from becoming the country’s all-time top scorer. Arturo Vidal has emerged as one of the best box-to-box midfielders in the world. Gary Medel and Bravo give leadership to a relatively weak defensive line. And there is Eduardo Vargas, a striker who always seems to play better when defending the National Team.
Even though Australia belongs in Oceania, they have been playing in the Asian Football Confederation for quite a while now. And they have proven they belong with the big boys in the continent, after securing their Confederations Cup berth following an impressive title campaign in the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.
Australia have progressed immensely over the last 10 years. Their head coach, Ange Postecoglou, named an experienced, strong side for this tournament. Unfortunately, The Socceroos won’t have two of their best players available. Bournemouth’s defender Ben Smith and Aston Villa’s midfielder Mile Jedinak both suffered injuries during the World Cup Qualifiers. And while the team found viable replacements, there is no doubt they will miss them.
That does not mean Australia does not have interesting players to watch in the tournament, however. Tim Cahill continues to defy age, and will lead the side once again with an eye towards retirement after the World Cup. Matt Ryan does not receive all the attention he deserves as a talented goalkeeper. And Matthew Leckie has come into his own following a stellar season with Ingolstadt in the German Bundesliga.
Last but not least, we have Cameroon. The Indomitable Lions are not the African powerhouse they were 15 years ago, and they currently are going through a rebuilding process. It is safe to say the plan is working as expected, as Cameroon clinched their Confederations Cup berth after winning the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
Hugo Broos decided to combine youth and experience in the squad, perhaps knowing the main goal is to clinch a berth for the 2018 World Cup. And considering Cameroon must deal with Chile and Germany, their chances of reaching the semifinals look slim – at best.
Vincent Aboubakar is our player to watch for the Lions. The Besiktas attacker has won 55 caps with the team and has scored 16 goals. As Cameroon’s biggest attacking threat, most of the team’s chances of pulling an upset will lie on his shoulders.
It is no secret that Germany and Chile are a few steps above their opponents in terms of quality. Both Australia and Cameroon are simply not good enough to beat them.
Upsets can happen, but I believe there is just too much difference between the teams here. I reckon Germany and Chile will reach the semifinals, with Australia finishing third and Cameroon sitting at the bottom.
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