Confederations Cup 2013 Preview: Teams That Could Cause Upsets in Group Stage
Kaz Photography/Getty Images
Brazil will welcome the soccer world on Saturday as it hosts the Confederations Cup, a warm-up tournament to next summer's World Cup.
While many around the world tend to overlook this competition, there is no doubt that it can be very useful for the teams involved. Not only will the participating national teams be able to play top-level competition, but they will also be able to familiarize themselves with Brazil's playing conditions and culture, something that is truly vital ahead of the World Cup next summer.
Starting on Saturday, the next couple of weeks should provide soccer fans around the world with a tease of what to expect ahead of next summer.
World powers such as Brazil, Italy and Spain will all be involved in this year's competition, along with massive underdogs Tahiti and Nigeria.
However, if we have learned anything from past Confederations Cups, it is that the underdog cannot be overlooked. For example, the United States went on to finish runners-up in the 2009 Confederations Cup, defeating Spain in the semifinal before falling to Brazil in devastating fashion in the final.
Now, let's take a look at three teams who have the potential to shock the world and pull off an upset in the group stage of this year's Confederations Cup.
Japan (vs. Brazil, June 16)
Now, if we were to look at the individual talent that is included in this game, Brazil would have to be looked at as the overwhelming favorites.
Simply put, Brazil just has more talent than Japan does. With the likes of Neymar, Oscar and Lucas Leiva featuring in Luiz Felipe Scolari's side, Brazil has the talent to be crowned the winner at the end of it all.
However, Brazil's greatest asset could also be its greatest demise. In fact, Julio Cesar, Dani Alves and Thiago Silva are Brazil's only remaining players on their roster that traveled with the team to the 2010 World Cup.
Because of the youth and inexperience that features in Brazil's roster, don't be surprised to see Japan pull of the upset in the tournament's opening match.
As Brazil has fallen to its lowest spot in history in the most recent FIFA world rankings, the youngsters of Brazil will have immense pressure on their shoulders to impress their fans in their home country.
That pressure just may open the door for an older, more experienced Japan side to steal a point in this game.
With Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa and CKSA Moscow's Keisuke Honda leading the way for the 2011 Asian Cup winners, Japan don't lack ability whatsoever.
Although this team has been placed in a brutally tough group, don't be surprised to see a surprise result or two from this side.
Mexico (vs. Italy, June 16)
If we were to look at the recent form of these two teams, Mexico would stand no chance in this match.
"El Tri" are coming off an embarrassing home 0-0 draw to Costa Rica in the 2014 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying and have managed to win once and score three times throughout the qualification process so far.
However, with that said, Mexico still has the ability to flip the switch at any point in time. With stars such as Giovani dos Santos and Javier Hernandez leading the Mexican front line, anything is possible.
Meanwhile, Italy, who had an embarrassing fallout in the 2010 World Cup, had a more impressive showing in last summer's European Championships and will look to continue their momentum from that competition into this year's Confederations Cup.
However, because of Mexico's poor form over the past couple of weeks, added pressure will be on their players to deliver the necessary result against Italy. With an outstanding defense (Mexico has given up two goals through six World Cup qualifying games), expect this to be a low-scoring game with one goal maybe being the deciding factor.
It is a goal that I won't be surprised to see Mexico score, and they might just run out of the Estádio do Maracanã with all three points against Italy.
Uruguay (vs. Spain, June 16)
The opening game of Group B should be the telling tale of the fortunes for both of these teams in the 2013 Confederations Cup.
On one side, you have Spain, the reigning champions of everything. On the other side, you have Uruguay, an up-and-coming team who managed to finish fourth in the 2010 World Cup and win the 2011 Copa America tournament.
Not to mention, they have the most controversial forward in the world: Luis Suarez. Suarez, who has as much ability as anybody in the world, leads Uruguay into a tough opening match against the most dominant international team that world soccer has ever seen, perhaps.
However, with Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan joining forces with Suarez, Uruguay could use their highly talented front line and give Spain's back line worlds of trouble come Saturday.
While Spain still has the likes of Xavi and Andres Iniesta leading their midfield, Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso has been ruled out of the tournament due to a groin injury and could be a key missing piece in Spain's quest for a Confederations Cup title.
As dominant as Spain has been over the past few years in world football, don't be surprised if Suarez and Co. were to nick a goal or two against the reigning European champions and steal the points away from the Spanish on Saturday.
While it is expected that Brazil, Spain and Italy are the countries that will most likely contend for the Confederations Cup title this summer in Brazil, recent past has shown us that nothing can be taken for granted.
With that said, look for the likes of Japan, Mexico and Uruguay to pull off unexpected upsets over soccer's current world powers.
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?