With the Confederations Cup starting on Saturday, there are plenty of questions you may have, I'm sure.
How can I watch all of the action? Will it be streaming? When will the games be played? Heck, where will they be played?
And of course, how does Timothy Rapp—Bleacher Report scholar and all-around gentleman who surely possess many leather-bound books—rank the eight teams heading into the tournament? Who does he judge to be the top players worth watching?
Okay, so maybe you weren't wondering about the whole "Timothy Rapp's opinions" part. Too bad—below, I've provided so much Confederations Cup information, you might burst, including a full schedule and television guide.
Enjoy. And please, don't burst.
Tim's Team Rankings
When you are the defending World Cup champions and two-time defending European champions, you get the No. 1 spot on this list. How good is Spain? They'll likely have Juan Mata coming off the bench, only one of the English Premier League's finest player this season.
Seriously, this team reads like a "Who's Who?" of technically-gifted stars in world football.
Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez remain two of the elite midfielders in the game. Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets are studs. Iker Casillas is still one of the top keepers in the world, while Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are world-class defenders.
They may not have a great forward on the team and have some questions in the back line, but they're still strong enough in the midfield to tiki-taka opponents to sleep before striking like a cobra. Or a rattlesnake. You pick the snake of your choosing.
For all of the talk about dangerous young attackers like Neymar, Oscar and Lucas Moura, this team's strength lies in a back line of Dani Alves, David Luiz, Thiago Silva and Marcelo. The only team that is arguably stronger on defense is Italy.
With the home-field advantage and an embarrassment of talented riches, there's no reason Brazil can't win this tournament.
Italy is solid in defense and has a lot of veteran talent in the midfield, led by Andrea Pirlo. The question is, who will start at forward? Will the mercurial Mario Balotelli pair with his AC Milan teammate, Stephan El Shaarawy?
Italy isn't afraid to slow the pace and grind out wins, so don't be shocked to see them win a 1-0 snoozer or two in this tournament.
There isn't a team in the tournament that boasts a better pair of forwards than Uruguay's Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. Add in veteran Diego Forlan, and this team can counter-attack with the best of them.
Still, Uruguay has struggled in South American World Cup qualifying, so they aren't entering this tournament on their best form. But if they play solid defense and get their counter-attack going, they are fully capable of winning this thing.
5. (Tie) Mexico and Japan
These are two pretty solid teams moving in opposite directions. Mexico has a ton of talent led by Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado but has been really disappointing in World Cup qualifying of late, with just one win, five draws and only three goals in the Hexagonal stage.
Meanwhile, Japan is an underrated side led by the creative duo of Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda in the midfield.
Both teams are stuck in the brutal Group A with Brazil and Italy, but both have the talent to advance.
The Africa Cup of Nations champions have a pretty talented side, but without Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike will have a tough time getting past Spain and Uruguay in Group B. John Mikel Obi and Sunday Mba will have to be huge for the Nigerians to advance to the knockout stage.
With all due respect to Tahiti, if this team scores a goal in the tournament I'll be impressed. They're that overmatched.
|Saturday, June 15||3 p.m. ET||Brasilia||Brazil vs. Japan||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 16||3 p.m. ET||Rio De Janeiro||Mexico vs. Italy||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Wednesday, June 19||3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||Brazil vs. Mexico||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Wednesday, June 19||6 p.m. ET||Recife||Italy vs. Japan||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Saturday, June 22||3 p.m. ET||Salvador||Italy vs. Brazil||ESPN News||WatchESPN|
|Saturday, June 22||3 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||Japan vs. Mexico||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 16||6 p.m. ET||Recife||Spain vs. Uruguay||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Monday, June 17||3 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte||Tahiti vs. Nigeria||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thursday, June 20||3 p.m. ET||Rio De Janeiro||Spain vs. Tahiti||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Thursday, June 20||6 p.m. ET||Salvador||Nigeria vs. Uruguay||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 23||3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||Nigeria vs. Spain||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 23||3 p.m. ET||Recife||Uruguay vs. Tahiti||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Wednesday, June 26||3 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte|| |
Group A (1) vs. Group B (2)
|Thursday, June 27||3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||Group B (1) vs. Group A (2)||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 30||12 p.m. ET||Salvador||Third-Place Game||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 30||6 p.m. ET||Rio De Janeiro||Final ||ESPN||WatchESPN|
Hit me up on Twitter—I've got all kinds of soccer opinions and stuff there, too. It's fun times, you guys.
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