The Confederations Cup is going pretty much as expected in the early going. Host nation Brazil got the tournament started with a sublime display against an overmatched Japan side, which set the tone for the marquee two-week event.
In Group A, Brazil and Italy secured victories in their first matches to give them three points and put both teams on the fast track to the semifinals. Mexico and Japan will need to showcase great form over the next two fixtures to make a comeback.
Spain continued its run of international dominance with a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in the Group B opener. It was the toughest test of the round for La Roja. Nigeria and Tahiti get started today, but neither side is expected to serve as a major factor.
Knowing that, let's examine the two sides that were the most impressive during their first match of the tournament and look ahead to their remaining group matches. For more Confederations Cup information, visit the event's official site.
Group A: Brazil
It's no secret Neymar must have a fantastic tournament for Brazil to win its third straight Confederations Cup title. He got the journey started with a memorable finish inside the first five minutes against Japan, unleashing a laser into the corner.
The rest of the match was just as encouraging for a Selecao side that's slid to No. 22 in the FIFA rankings. They were able to control the match, dominating possession at times and using sustained buildups to create scoring chances.
It was far closer to what fans have come to expect from Brazil in World Cup cycles past. The performance must be kept in perspective, though. The Selecao handled the weakest team in the group. The next two matches will be a better measuring stick.
They face what will be a very desperate Mexico side on Wednesday. El Tri need a victory after losing their opener, which means Brazil can expect an aggressive attack. They finish group play against Italy, which could very well decide the Group A winner.
Group B: Spain
In typical Spanish form, La Roja entered a big tournament and started taking care of business in a very workmanlike fashion. They were up 2-0 on a formidable Uruguay side within the first 32 minutes and cruised to three points.
The victory had all the fingerprints of a usual showing from Spain during its run of dominance. It held possession more than 70 percent of the match, generated plenty of scoring chances and stood tall at the back when the Celeste started to pull close.
It should come as no surprise, of course, with Andres Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Xavi leading the way, Spain is built for success. And the side's unmatched depth gives it more margin for error, in terms of injuries and poor form, than any other country.
Next, Spain plays surprising entrant Tahiti in a match that could get ugly if La Roja goes all out for 90 minutes. They finish the group stage against Nigeria. There's no reason they should finish with anything less than nine points and the top spot in Group B.
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