5 Tactical Highlights from the 2013 Confederations Cup so Far
The 2013 Confederations Cup isn't quite big enough to develop tactical trends, but we can pick out tactical oddities and highlights for you as the group stage finishes.
What has Vicente del Bosque done to mould and reshape his Spanish team?
Which formation is being used more than any other?
Which Chelsea player is making a surprising cameo in an attacking, instrumental position?
Read on and enjoy!
4-2-3-1 Reigns Supreme
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As usual, the 4-2-3-1 has reigned supreme in an international tournament.
After a disastrous first game, Uruguay reverted to it in some capacity, Nigeria used it, Mexico have toyed with it, Japan have approached it and Brazil have stuck to it.
Only Spain, Mexico (both 4-3-3) and Tahiti (?) have truly stayed away from the most popular formation in world football.
It's helped Luiz Felipe Scolari get the best out of Neymar and Oscar, allowed Nigeria to utilise their strong central core and freed Japan's dazzling playmakers ahead of an impressive double pivot.
Spain Change Their Midfield
Xabi Alonso's place is in serious danger
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Xabi Alonso, a player who was previously untouchable, undroppable in the Spain starting XI, will be watching his television and grimacing.
Injury has forced him to miss the 2013 Confederations Cup. As a result, Vicente Del Bosque has changed his formation to adapt. Turns out, without Alonso deep in midfield with Sergio Busquets, Spain are more fluent than ever.
The dominance they enjoyed against Uruguay was absolutely ridiculous, and Spain have really changed their skin coming into the tournament.
No longer are they boring grinders, they're pure entertainers.
Oscar Tabarez In: Defensive Mixup of the Century
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Oscar Tabarez is a seasoned coach, so there's simply no excuse for what he's pulled in Brazil this month.
Uruguay's shape, tactics and game plan were distinctly absent against Spain, and a thoroughly unorganised display was deservedly thrashed by a rampant Roja team.
In the next game, against Nigeria, Uruguay switched from a back three, to a back four, to a back five—as detailed by Michael Cox.
La Celeste's chances, with a great squad, ruined.
John Obi Mikel as a No. 10?
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Once upon a time, John Obi Mikel was a promising No. 10.
He won the FIFA U-20 World Cup Silver Football in 2005 after several mercurial displays, pulling the strings from behind the forwards and creating goals.
This increased his profile somewhat, and in 2006, he landed his dream move(s) to both Chelsea and Manchester United. After being informed by the FA that he could only play for one team, though, he chose Jose Mourinho's Blues.
What Mikel didn't know was that he was about to be converted into a holding midfielder—not that he ever really had the tackling, tracking or concentration to fulfill such a role.
Now, seven years later, he's finally contributing in the attacking third once more. He scored a superb goal after twisting his marker in the box against Uruguay.
Tahiti Attack, Promptly Get Slaughtered
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Many expected Tahiti to rock up and park the bus—after all, they're ranked 138th in the world, and their presence in Brazil was largely a running feel-good joke.
But Toa Aito came out swinging, and instead of sitting back and accepting their fate as the worst team in the competition, played attacking football, held a ridiculously high line and conceded a lot of goals as a result.
They shipped an astonishing 24 goals in three matches, but scored the all-important one: Jonathan Tehau rose highest at a corner to head home, creating history.