The Confederations Cup is here, which means one thing: the World Cup is only a year away! This edition of the Confederations Cup, which will take place in Russia, seems poised to have some exciting matchups between some of the top national teams from all over the world.
The Road to the Cup
Each team had a unique qualification path to the Confederations Cup. Russia had perhaps the easiest path, since they qualified directly as hosts of the 2018 World Cup.
Next up was Germany, who qualified as winners of the 2014 World Cup. The world champions defeated Argentina 1-0 after extra time to claim the title and secure their place in this year’s competition.
Australia qualified as champions of the Asian confederation after beating South Korea 2-1 after extra time in the 2015 Asian Cup final. This also marked the first time a country had become champion of two confederations, as Australia was previously a member of the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC).
Speaking of the OFC, New Zealand qualified as champions of Oceania, defeating Papua New Guinea in a penalty shootout in their cup final.
Chile defeated Argentina in a thrilling penalty shootout to win their first Copa América title in 2015, and it punched their ticket to Russia as South American champions.
Mexico will represent CONCACAF in the Confederations Cup as 2015 Gold Cup champions. Since USA were 2013 Gold Cup champions, these two nations faced off in a playoff match to decide who would represent the confederation in Russia. Mexico triumphed 3-2 after extra time.
Portugal defeated France 1-0 after extra time in the EURO 2016 final to qualify for the Confederations Cup, becoming the third European team to book a spot in this year’s competition.
Finally, Cameroon managed a win in the Africa Cup of Nations final earlier this year against Egypt. Their 2-1 result was enough to give them another trophy to play for this year.
Although the trophy on the line this year is not nearly as prestigious as the World Cup, the teams competing will feature strong lineups in order to give themselves a real test before returning to Russia in 2018.
Group A will feature hosts Russia along with New Zealand, Portugal, and Mexico. Russia face a big challenge to even make it out of the group, while Portugal will be buoyed by recent successes under the leadership of star player Cristiano Ronaldo.
Meanwhile, Group B will include Cameroon, Chile, Australia, and Germany. The world champions will have a lot to prove next year as they attempt to defend their world title, so the Confederations Cup will be a great place to see how they have grown in the last three years as a team.
Depending on what teams proceed to the knockout stages, we could see some exciting matchups in the latter stages of the competition.
Mexico may want to redeem themselves against Chile after falling to the South Americans in last year’s Copa América. Their absolutely humiliating 7-0 loss shook the team to its core, so they will hope to avoid a similar embarrassment if these teams meet again so soon.
A Portugal-Germany match is also on the cards, which would allow two of Europe’s biggest teams to battle it out. This match would see Ronaldo, one of the greatest players in the world, against the well-oiled machine that is the German national team.
Regardless of how the results play out, this year’s Confederations Cup is sure to provide some memorable moments and exciting football from the world’s best teams.