FIFA Confederations Cup: Complete Guide to Group B

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
FIFA Confederations Cup: Complete Guide to Group B
Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Kicking off on June 15 in Brasilia, the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup is set to offer up a quick glimpse of what fans can look forward to at the World Cup next summer.

With host nation Brazil joined by seven sides from six of FIFA's component governing bodies, it threatens to be a footballing whirlwind appetizer that will leave fans salivating ahead of next summer's main event.

Let's, then, take a look at the four sides who will make up Group B at the tournament.

 

Group B: Spain, Tahiti, Uruguay, Nigeria

 

Spain

When it comes to deciding upon favourites for the competition, reigning world and European champions Spain are by far the outstanding choice.

Having dominated world football since 2008, people will once more be looking to proclaim the end of La Roja's reign. However, they are not likely to surrender their perch easily—as shown during last summer's European Championship.

There had been debate coming into the tournament as to whether manager Vicente del Bosque would be best advised resting some of his players this summer, but he has instead opted to take a full-strength squad to Brazil this summer.

The only major selection surprise thrown by the experienced head coach is the omission of Real Madrid central midfielder Xabi Alonso. However, it is a position in which he is blessed with immense talent.

Come the end of the month, Spain will expect to be lifting the Confederations Cup trophy to complete their set of major tournament wins. Having fallen to the USA in 2009, they will look to ensure that they do not come up short once more this time around.

David Ramos/Getty Images

Key Player: Xavi - The midfield maestro has not had his best season at club level, but is still seen as an integral player for both Barcelona and Spain.

While colleague Andres Iniesta may be more involved closer to goal, it is Xavi who sets the tempo for del Bosque's side, with every play passing through his feet at least once en-route to the opposition's penalty area.

Many would have chosen to rest his ageing legs this summer, but del Bosque sees the Barcelona man as simply too important to omit.

 

Tahiti

Tahiti qualified for the Confederations Cup by virtue of winning the 2012 Nations Cup, defeating New Caledonia 1-0 in the final. It is, at present, the only major title in the country's history.

To say that Tahiti are not expected to challenge would be an understatement. On Tuesday night the side lost 7-0 in their latest warm-up match in South America—against Chile's Under-20 side.

While the Chileans are a very good unit, it does not augur well for upcoming fixtures with some of the world's best senior national sides.

Just one of manager Eddy Etaeta's side ply their trade outside of their homeland, with former France Under-21 international Marama Vahirua now in the Greek Super League. He is the only player of any real note.

Top scorer Steevy Hue will be looked to as a potential source of inspiration for the side, having spent a brief spell in the Belgian fourth tier. While his international record is decent, though, goals against Samoa, Kiribati and the Cook Islands will be fairly meaningless on this stage.

Key Player: Marama Vahirua - The only player in the squad of any real repute, Vahirua spent much of his career in Ligue 1 with a handful of sides, before dropping down to Ligue 2 with Monaco in 2011-12.

Now in Greece, he remains a semi-regular goalscorer, but is now reaching the final stages of his career. A nationality switch will see him make his Tahiti debut at the tournament, but he is not expected to make a huge impact in what is a team that will be well out of its depth.

 

Julian Finney/Getty Images

Uruguay

With just one win in nine games during the 2012-13 football season, Uruguay are currently in their worst run of form for some time. That said, though, they will still expect to progress from Group B.

Ahead of the tournament itself, La Celeste still have two more fixtures in which to try and hit some form. However, with a home fixture against France followed up by a difficult away qualifier in Venezuela, results will be far from easy to come by.

Despite their ageing defence and central midfield options, Uruguay still have more than enough quality to make a significant impact this summer. If they can get the likes of Gaston Ramirez, Nicolas Lodeiro, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani firing, there is no team in the competition they could not beat on their day.

It is all a matter of whether manager Oscar Tabarez can strike the right balance, and breathe confidence into what is an under-performing side.

Drawn in the kinder half of the draw and playing in conditions they will be relatively familiar with, they should be in prime position to capitalise on any slip ups by the tournament's leading sides.

Key Player: Edinson Cavani - Napoli striker Cavani is widely regarded as one of the best centre-forwards in world football, but has never consistently performed for his country.

The presence of both Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez has often forced the agile forward to play out of position, but the time has come to give him a central berth and allow him to shine.

If Uruguay can get Cavani scoring, they will have a chance of success this summer. Should his international malaise continue, though, it is difficult to see them threatening the tournament's best sides.

 

Ian Walton/Getty Images

Nigeria

The Super Eagles shocked everyone by securing Africa Cup of Nations success in January, having entered the tournament with coverage focused on several controversial team selection calls.

Coach Stephen Keshi has stuck to his guns over selection issues and will stick with the group who took the country to success in January. That, then, means no place for the likes of Obafemi Martins, Yakubu and Peter Odemwingie.

However, it has allowed a new generation of stars to come to the fore. Chelsea duo John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses lead the side in terms of star power, but the likes of Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi, Emmanuel Emenike and Ideye Brown are all making their own names at present.

Add to that a group of talented Nigeria-based players keen for a move to a European club and youngsters like centre-back Kenneth Omeruo, and it's clear why Keshi was successful.

Despite the tumult of the country's footballing setup, Keshi has managed to assemble an ambitious group of players who feel they have much to prove. The previous under-performing generation has rightfully been consigned to the scrapheap.

Key Player: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea) - Now 26, Nigeria central midfielder Mikel still often has difficulty convincing people of his ability. For this new Super Eagles setup, though, his importance cannot be overstated.

Mikel is the calming influence at the centre of what remains a youthful and fairly inexperienced side and will need to exert every bit of his influence this month if Nigeria are to succeed.

His role will be to bring the likes of Musa, Moses and Sunday Mba into the game ahead of him and allow them to play more creative roles. It is a job that he fulfilled perfectly during the Cup of Nations.

 

Prediction: 1. Spain, 2. Uruguay, 3. Nigeria, 4. Tahiti

Load More Stories

International Champions Cup

Out of Bounds

World Football

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.