With 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in full swing, all attention is turning to the international competition and the teams gearing up to compete in the world’s most exciting football tournament.
The Confederations Cup is little more than a warm-up for the event, but there’s no denying the intrigue of watching eight of the world’s best teams face off to compete for the title.
The tournament will kick off Saturday at Estadio Nacional in Brazil, site of the 2014 World Cup. Teams competing in the Confederations Cup will have an opportunity to face some tough competition at the venue hosting the World Cup next year.
Let’s take a look at all the vitals for the tournament and preview the opening match between Brazil and Japan. Read on.
|Group A||Group B|
|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|
Brazil vs. Japan
In the opening match of the Confederations Cup, automatic World Cup qualifiers and tournament hosts Brazil take on Asian Cup winners Japan Saturday at Estadio Nacional.
The two sides are the first to qualify for the World Cup, as Brazil earned an automatic bid for hosting and Japan for their performance in the group qualifying matches. While both teams can already look ahead to the World Cup, Japan may be a little more eager to get through the opening Confederations Cup contest.
Brazil are the prohibitive favorite to triumph Saturday, and a strong contender to make waves on the big stage next year. While Japan may be the most underrated team in the tournament, they won’t have an easy time upending the hosts.
And the fact Japan remains winless against Brazil doesn’t help matters.
The hosts enter this match with a spotless 9-0 mark against the challengers in competitive matches, the last meeting resulting in a 4-1 Brazil win in 2006. Seven years is a lot of time for Japan to change their fortunes, but history isn’t in their favor.
But perhaps the most intriguing element of this match is the exhibition of Barcelona attacker Neymar, who is easily the biggest star in the tournament. The 21-year-old recently agreed to transfer from Santos to the Spanish side ahead of next season, but he’ll be on full display for his home country in both this tournament and the World Cup.
The day following the opening match, Mexico and Italy face off at Rio de Janeiro in Group A competition, while Spain and Uruguay kick off Group B action at Recife.