Confederations Cup 2013 Predictions: Top Stars Who Will Help Themselves the Most
Although missing many of the world's top countries, the 2013 Confederations Cup is full of football's best players.
With only eight teams in the tournament, the Confederations Cup lacks the star power of the Euros or World Cup. However, that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of talented players whom you should be focusing on during the event.
This is a great chance to see some players outside of the normal European pool of talent that occupies your television screen for much of the season.
Although these four players could never be considered unknowns in the world of football, their reputations should get major boosts as a result of the Confederations Cup.
No player will be under more pressure than Neymar. Hopes will be high for Brazil playing at home, and nobody will be expected to contribute more to the cause than the 21-year-old forward.
Will Brazil win the Confederations Cup?
For years, football fans have been hearing about this young Brazilian phenomenon. Most of their viewing of Neymar has been on YouTube or some other highlight video. There's no doubting the player's skill. Now, moving to Barcelona, Neymar will have an opportunity to play in one of the top leagues in the world on a weekly basis.
He won't want to head into the Nou Camp on the heels of a poor performance at the Confederations Cup. His critics will start to wonder if the price tag was too high for a player who's never played in Europe, and the pressure on him in Barcelona will only grow.
Don't expect that to happen, though. Neymar will put on a great show this tournament, even if Brazil as a whole struggles. He'll have his moments that will leave fans breathless.
If this is your first time seeing Neymar over a run of matches, get ready, because you're going to see something special.
Edinson Cavani, Uruguay
Often overshadowed by the polarizing Luis Suarez and previously taking a back seat to Diego Forlan, it's sometimes easy to forget that Edinson Cavani is a member of Uruguay. He's one of the best strikers in the world and would have probably had a much larger impact on his national team had it not been for the superb play of Suarez and Forlan in the past.
Forlan's influence is waning, opening the door for Cavani. He's only scored three goals in 12 CONMEBOL qualifying matches. He's yet to have that kind of transcendent performance for Uruguay.
The team has struggled to move on from Forlan, so having Cavani produce is going to be key for Uruguay's prospects in the Confederations Cup and World Cup qualification.
If not for his country, Cavani should at the very least play well for himself. Goal's Wayne Veysey reported that there are serious bids from Real Madrid and Chelsea for the Napoli striker.
This tournament will leave a lasting impression and possibly give Chelsea that extra impetus to push a move through as quickly as possible. There seems to be little doubt Cavani will leave Napoli, but it's up to the striker to impress the right people.
Keisuke Honda, Japan
Japan is a very good side. The Japanese have a lot of talent in the attack and used that talent to become the first country to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
Before his move to CSKA Moscow, Keisuke Honda was one of the most in-demand midfielders in the world. As happens to most players who move to Russia, Honda has lost some of the notoriety and status he enjoyed around 2008 and 2009.
It's not as Honda has regressed as a footballer. He still remains a dynamic player to sit in behind the striker.
What's more, the 27-year-old looks to be on the move this summer, per AC Milan News:
Keisuke Honda: "I still have 6 months left of my contract with CSKA Moscow, but my intention is to leave the club now."— AC Milan News (@Milanello) June 12, 2013
The Confederations Cup will be a great showcase for Honda's abilities. Japan have tough matches against Mexico, Brazil and Italy. In order to get any points from those three matches, Honda will have to be at his best.
He'll be helping Japan to progress through the tournament while simultaneously reminding everyone of his superb creative ability.
John Obi Mikel, Nigeria
One of the key players for Nigeria in its Africa Cup of Nations win was John Obi Mikel. Surrounded by so many talented players at Chelsea, it's often easy to forget the contributions of the 26-year-old midfielder.
He's by no means close to a world-class level, but Mikel is still a reliable defensive midfielder. While he's perhaps failed to play consistently or reach his potential, Mikel has generally been a reliable player for Nigeria.
Considering it's grouped in with Spain and Uruguay, Nigeria will need to rely on Mikel to anchor the midfield. The Super Eagles won't be able to go toe to toe with their opponents. The only hope they'll have is to keep the score low and try to snatch a goal.
That leaves the door open for Mikel to line up against some of the best attackers in the world. If he comes out alive, his reputation as a defensive midfielder will only grow.
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