Confederations Cup 2013: Power Ranking the 4 Remaining Teams

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23:  Fernando Torres of Spain (9) celebrates as he scores their second goal with team mates during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group B match between Nigeria and Spain at Castelao on June 23, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

And then there were four.

Semifinal play at the 2013 Confederations Cup begins Wednesday, and it looks like two teams have distanced themselves as favorites to advance.

Although not considered a major tournament by any stretch, the Confederations Cup has provided some entertaining football and given fans their fix after the club seasons have ended.

Now, the fat has been trimmed as Japan, Mexico, Nigeria and Tahiti were eliminated in the group stage. That leaves Brazil, Italy, Spain and Uruguay as the final four. Each semifinal pits two big teams against each other and should fun to watch.

Here is how each team ranks in terms of capability of advancing to the final and winning the tournament.

 

4. Italy

Italy has done very well in the tournament up to this point. Andrea Pirlo and Mario Balotelli in particular have been very strong in carrying the Azzurri attack.

Italian football expert Tancredi Palmeri pointed out Italy looks like the the walking wounded right now, though, and won't have Balotelli against Spain.

The 2012 European Championship final may have come a year ago, but it's still fresh in the minds of many fans. Spain swept aside Italy en route to a 4-0 win.

Cesare Prandelli had a full complement of players in that match, yet Italy was still miles behind Spain. Without Balotelli and possibly without Pirlo and/or Riccardo Montolivo, the Azzurri don't stand much of a chance.

Italy has had a couple of problems, especially defensively, in the Confederations Cup. Against an attack as strong as Spain, those issues will come to the fore.

While not the worst team remaining, the Azzurri have the fewest chance of advancing.

 

3. Uruguay

Uruguay has done nothing in the Confederations Cup to allay the fears of supporters who wonder what the country's chances are in the 2014 World Cup.

It was shocking how much they were dominated by Spain in their opening match. La Roja had control and never let go. Luis Suarez's superb free kick was Uruguay's only saving grace.

Uruguay looked better against Nigeria but far from convincing. La Celeste wasted a lot of good opportunities and should have been punished more by allowing the Super Eagles so many chances to equalize.

This is a team that has enough talent to win the entire competition. Sure, the club has struggled to adjust to Diego Forlan losing a step. That doesn't explain it all, though.

Edinson Cavani can't finish, and the midfield is unorganized and loses the ball at the most inopportune times.

If Uruguay wakes up from its slumber, it can beat Brazil. That's a big if at this point, though.

 

2. Brazil

One country that has used the Confederations Cup to its advantage is Brazil. They looked mediocre coming into the tournament but have been excellent since play got underway.

In his first tournament with the senior side, Neymar has been superb, scoring in all three matches of the group stage. He couldn't have hoped for a better performance before he joins Barcelona.

Luiz Felipe Scolari also has the midfield looking very good with the trio of Oscar, Paulinho and Luiz Gustavo. This is some of the most fluid play Brazil has shown in quite a while. Under Mano Menezes and shortly after Scolari took over, the Selecao were a stilted side, failing to properly link the defense to the attack.

That hasn't been the case in the Confederations Cup.

Brazil is still a little way off of being considered a favorite for the 2014 World Cup. They still have some issues, and winning the Confederations Cup does not cover up the last few months for the team.

Supporters have a right to be encouraged, though. If Scolari can keep this play up for the next year, then it's going to be a very exciting summer in Brazil.

 

1. Spain

Reports of Spain's demise are greatly exaggerated.

After Barcelona and Real Madrid were knocked out of the Champions League, all the talk was about the Bundesliga taking over and that Spain's time in the sun was through.

The national team has responded by being as dominant as ever in the Confederations Cup.

You can't really look at the 10-0 win against Tahiti and take anything away from it. The Spanish players probably have a harder time scoring in training.

However, against both Nigeria and Uruguay, La Roja have been dominant.

Vincente del Bosque again tweaked his squad, going with Sergio Busquets as the lone holding midfielder, with Andres Iniesta and Xavi in more advanced positions. So much of Spain's continued success is down to del Bosque. He knows that he can't continue playing the same players the same way, otherwise the team will get stale and predictable.

That's what's happened to Barcelona.

Instead, del Bosque has done just enough to give his team different looks while not throwing off the chemistry too much.

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