Confederations Cup '09: Kicking off the Party
The Confederations Cup is not the World Cup; however, the tournament does give the fans a glimpse at what they can expect to see the following year. South Africa is proving to the world that they are indeed a very deserving host. The yellow- and green-clad fans have packed the stands with their flags, drums, and their horns that sound like bees buzzing for ninety minutes straight. The stadiums are immaculate, and their home side has performed and exceeded expectations.
The teams that are shining in South Africa a year early are Brazil, Spain, “The Boys” from South Africa, Italy, and the surprise of the tournament so far Egypt, who stole a game from the Italians earlier today.
Both Brazil and Spain entered the tournament as the favorites to reach the semifinals with their high rankings in the FIFA poll, and quality results in qualifying. Both of these have continued on to the pitch in South Africa, and have helped propel them into their quality form in the Confederations Cup currently.
Former captain Dunga has managed Brazil to an unbeaten streak that extends back to June of ’08 when Paraguay beat the yellow and blue 2-0 in Asunción, Paraguay. Dunga has compiled a roster than includes Serie A, Bundesliga, Priemera Division, and Premier League players Kaka, Robinho, Lucio, Juan, Luis Fabiano, and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Their results to date are even more encouraging for next summer due to one of the most recognizable players in the world being left off the Confederations Cup roster, Ronaldinho.
Spain, on the other hand, brought everything except their kitchen sink to the Confederations Cup. Notable stars that have shined for the Spaniards so far are David Villa (two goals in two games), Fernando Torres (three goals in two games), and other notable world stars such as Cesc Fabregas, who has also added a goal to his name, Xavi, Carlos Puyol, Capdevila, Xavi Alonso, and the man between the posts, Iker Casillas. All of these stars have led Spain into the semifinals with one game left to play in the group stage.
The Italians were looking to be the third team to be slotted into the semifinals before their meltdown versus Egypt today. Both Egypt and Italy will have to play mistake free soccer versus their respected opponents on Sunday with goal differential playing a key role for both. Egypt faces the United States, who have been a terrible disappointment thus far in the cup, earning more red cards then goals to their name. Brazil will face the Italians, in what most would dream to be a World Cup final; it will be a group B match to determine the Italians' fate.
Just like the World Cup, it is win or go home. There have been many exciting goals, saves, and games, and a few surprises to tell thus far through two games. Will reigning World Cup champion Italy be eliminated? Can Brazil retain world dominance in soccer? Can Spain follow up their Euro 2008 win with their second trophy in as many years? Only time will tell how the rest of the tournament will unfold.
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