Confederations Cup Betting: Group A Preview

8Jun 2013

Confederations Cup 2013

As the Confederations Cup appears over the horizon and the cream of international football look to get their hands on another trophy, Callum Davis takes a look at the runners and riders in Group A...

Brazil

Brazil will be under a huge amount of pressure for this tournament both on and off the field. Structural issues with the Maracana Stadium prior to Brazil's friendly with England on Sunday highlighted the ongoing concerns that many have over the nation's capability of hosting next year's FIFA World Cup. The country's administrators will be looking for a flawless Confederations Cup this month to allay any more concerned grumblings.

On the pitch, Brazil currently sit as favourites for the competition at 2.54, despite sitting 19th in the FIFA rankings. As hosts, Brazil will be keen to utilise this competition as the kind of preparation which they've lacked by not participating in the South American qualification campaign. Their 2-2 draw with England on Sunday showed some signs of promise but fans will be looking for more of a contribution from their star individuals. On the back of his €57m move to Barcelona, all eyes will be on Neymar for what will be his first appearance since his big money move to the La Liga champions.

Brazil are going through a certain degree of transition under Luiz Felipe Scolari, who has omitted the previously ever-present play-makers Ronaldinho and Kaka. It will be interesting to see if the likes of Lucas Moura and Oscar are able to lead their national side into a new era.

 

Japan

Japan's 1-1 draw with Australia yesterday ensured that they became the first side to qualify for next year's World Cup, joining hosts and Confederations Cup opponents Brazil in the small list of teams guaranteed to play in the largest football show on earth. Japan will open up the tournament next Saturday looking to topple hosts Brazil in Brasilia.

The Samurai Blue have now qualified for the World Cup five times in a row and represent tricky opponents for Brazil in the tournament's curtain raiser. Their Italian coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, has already stated the significance of the tournament for Japan as a good gauge of where his side are at compared to more established international outfits. They actually have a decent history in this competition, finishing runners up to France in 2001.

Japan's main threat will undoubtedly come from their midfield duo of Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda, with Honda proving particularly pivotal to their push for their march to qualification. Japan are considered huge outsiders for the tournament at 66.0, but their price of 9.6 for victory over Brazil in the opening match seems disproportionately long considering the proficiency with which they qualified for the World Cup and the relatively indifferent form the hosts have been in. Laying Brazil at 1.37 to cover the draw seems the most sensible opening bet of the competition to me.

 

Mexico

Mexico come into this year's tournament as the only other side besides Brazil to have lifted this trophy in the past. Their victory came as hosts of the cup in 1999, conquering Brazil 4-3 to mark an historic victory in Mexico City. Hopes of a repeat feat this time around are not so great, but their team contains sufficient flair and firepower to challenge teams.

Only six of Mexico's 23 man squad ply their trade outside of the country's domestic league, so to a certain extent the team will represent an unknown quantity to other sides in Group A. El Tricolore's strike force does contain more recognisable faces in the form of Javier Hernandez and Giovani Dos Santos, however they will be without former Arsenal striker Carlos Vela who continues to be out of favour with head coach Jose Manuel de la Torre. The Real Sociedad striker's continued absence from the national side will be not further Mexico's chances in Brazil, however in the boy they call Little Pea they have a more than competent goal threat.

Mexico seem unlikely to have the quality to go all the way and lift the trophy, however I think they stand a good chance of qualifying from Group A.

 

Italy

Italy's appearance this year marks their second participation in the Confederations Cup and the Azzurri are priced at 8.4 to lift the trophy. While Italy's squad includes a handful of players from less renowned clubs in Serie A, the bulk of their team includes the same stalwarts from past international competitions.

Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo still feature prominently in the spine of the side, but a significant transition in personnel has occurred up front in recent years. Where Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero and Antonio Di Natale once led the Italian line, now AC Milan's Mario Balotelli and Stephan El Shaarawy will spearhead Italy's quest for goals.

Balotelli in particular will be looking to capitalise on a strong debut season for AC Milan following a chequered three years at Manchester City. Following his brace of goals against Germany in last year's Euro 2012 semi-final, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli will hope Balotelli is maturing into a striker capable of being a key player in the national set up. If Balotelli fires in front of goal then Italy's price of 8.7 to win the tournament could quickly look incredibly juicy.

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Keywords: Italy, Mexico, Japan, Brazil, Confederations Cup, Group A

Source: Betfair

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