B/R Experts Rank the Confederations Cup Contenders

Sam Tighe@@stighefootballWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 13, 2013

B/R Experts Rank the Confederations Cup Contenders

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    Welcome to the pre-tournament power rankings of the Confederations Cup contenders, voted for by some of your favourite B/R writers.

    Each voter has ranked the teams 1-8 ahead of the tournament's June 15 start, with one point being awarded for the lowest ranking and eight for the highest. It will not surprise you to hear that Tahiti are unfancied in this competition.

    Meet the voters:

    • Ed Dove, African Football Expert
    • Karl Matchett, Staff Writer
    • Tom Sunderland, Power Rankings Guru
    • Chris Atkins, Brazilian Football Aficionado
    • Joe Krishnan, EPL & Chelsea Expert
    • Eduardo Mendez, MLS Guru
    • John Greely, Staff Writer
    • Samuel Marsden, La Liga Oracle

    See where your nation has been ranked ahead of the tournament proper!

8. Tahiti

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    Points: 8

    No surprises here.

    Tahiti prop up our power rankings and face an uphill challenge to compete.

    Each of our voters took Tahiti in dead last, and although there will be a squad of players out there determined to prove them wrong, you can't deny that's 100 percent accurate in every way.

    They're here to make up the numbers and have a good time—good luck to them!

    They were the first to arrive in Brazil, and boy did they do it in style.

7. Nigeria

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    Points: 17

    Nigeria's task of competing here has been made harder by the loss of 20-year-old star Ogenyi Onazi, according to Goal.com. The Lazio midfielder picked up a knee injury in a Wednesday World Cup qualifying match.

    The Super Eagles are the consensus second-worst side in the competition, with their success in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations seemingly quickly forgotten.

    In Group B, Tahiti should be a roll-over, while Spain appear the clear winners. If Nigeria can upset Uruguay, though, a semifinal berth is theirs for the taking. 

6. Mexico

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    Points: 26

    Mexico are a shadow of their former selves right now, and that's reflected in their disappointing sixth-place ranking here.

    They're always the underdogs, always the side that "could," but right now they can't even score goals, as four of their last six World Cup qualifiers have ended in scoreless draws. Costa Rica and the U.S. are in far better positions to qualify for the 2014 tournament, so perhaps "El Tri" can use this competition as a springboard to improve.

    Still, a result against Japan will leave them just an upset against out-of-sorts Brazil away from the semifinals. There is always hope.

5. Japan

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    Points: 31

    Japan may be a rising force in football, but we're not quite convinced 2013 is their year.

    That could change when the 2014 World Cup rolls around, but for now it seems this is merely a chance to test the water for the Asian powerhouse. Despite that, they are not to be taken lightly, as this squad boast talent from all over Europe, like Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa and CSKA Moscow's Keisuke Honda.

    Their opening game against Brazil should have a big say in how well they do in this competition. Can they pull off the ultimate upset?

4. Uruguay

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    Points: 35

    Narrowly beating out Japan for a place in the top half of the rankings is Uruguay.

    Despite a somewhat ropey World Cup qualifying campaign in the CONMEBOL region, our panelists fancy Uruguay to make a splash due to the obscene attacking talent on the roster. They also sit in a manageable group—aside from top contenders Spain, Uruguay will have to contend with Tahiti and Nigeria, the bottom two sides in this ranking.

    Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez, Gaston Ramirez—you can't go too wrong with these guys in your squad. Oscar Tabarez's men appear the dark horses to win the competition.

3. Brazil

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    Points: 48 (two first-placed votes)

    The hosts of the Confederations Cup and soon-to-be hosts of the FIFA World Cup 2014—in third?

    On current form, that's about right. Luiz Felipe Scolari has taken the reins of this falling giant in an attempt to galvanise the country ahead of a historic 12 months, but so far it hasn't quite fallen for them.

    Small amounts of progress have been made, but this is a side many expect to reach no further than the semifinals despite all their world-class talent in players like Neymar, Oscar and Thiago Silva.

    Scolari will treat it as a dry run for the World Cup, and we'll learn a lot about this side's capabilities and character over the next two weeks.

2. Italy

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    Points: 51

    Edging in three points ahead of the hosts is Italy, a team with a nice blend of reliable veterans (Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo) and exciting youngsters (Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy). They're led by Cesare Prandelli and are on a quest to avenge Euro 2012 heartbreak.

    The Azzurri performed admirably on the way to the final in Poland and Ukraine, but they fell cruelly at the hands of the unrelenting Spanish, 4-0.

    They're bigger and better and have learnt from that experience—but they've still got the Spanish to face at some point. Does anyone fancy them for revenge?

1. Spain

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    Points: 62

    Who else? Seriously?

    With a runaway score of 62—and an astonishing six first-placed votes—Spain, the current world and European champions, top this ranking.

    They'll be looking to add the Confederations Cup to their ridiculously long list of recent achievements, and they will see this as the perfect chance to acclimate ahead of the crown defence of the World Cup in 2014.

    Vicente del Bosque's pulling no punches with his squad, as it's predictably loaded with top La Liga and English Premier League talent. Prepare to be dazzled.