World champions Germany, Australia, Cameroon and Copa America winners Chile fight it out in Group B of the 2017 Confederations Cup, but are any of these teams potential winners?
This is the second part of our Confederations Cup preview here on Balls and Brawls on who could be the players to watch out for in Russia and some predictions on how far the eight nations will get in the tournament. Read my predictions for Group A here.
Australia qualified for the Confederations Cup by winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup beating South Korea in the final. It is the first time Australia represent the Asian confederation, having previously competed under the OFC competition.
This is Australia’s fourth time competing in the Confederations Cup. Their best result came in Saudi Arabia in 1997 when they finished as runners-up after losing to Brazil 6-0 in the final.
One to Watch: Aaron Mooy
Former Melbourne City man Aaron Mooy has enjoyed a very strong season in England over the past year, as the 26-year-old was a key man in guiding Huddersfield to promotion to the Premier League back in May.
The Australian made a huge impact in the Terriers’ midfield last season on loan from Man City, having been voted their player of the year and Huddersfield fans will be glad to know he is sticking around, after the club agreed a record £10m deal to sign the 26-year-old.
Mooy’s excellent season should be enough for him to get the chance to shine in the Australian starting XI but it might be a tough ask for Mooy to continue his fine form, especially against the likes of Chile and World Champions Germany.
Goalkeepers: Mathew Ryan (Genk), Mitchell Langerak (Stuttgart), Daniel Vukovic (Sydney FC)
Defenders: Milos Degenek (Yokohama F Marinos), Alex Gersbach (Rosenborg), Dylan McGowan (Pacos de Ferreira), Bailey Wright (Bristol City), Aziz Behich (Bursaspor), Ryan McGowan (Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng), Trent Sainsbury (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Tim Cahill (Melbourne City), Mark Milligan (Baniyas), Aaron Mooy (Huddersfield), Ajdin Hrustic (Groningen), Massimo Luongo (QPR), Jackson Irvine (Burton), James Jeggo (Sturm Graz)
Forwards: Mathew Leckie (Ingolstadt), Tomi Juric (Luzern), Robbie Kruse (Liaoning Whowin), Jamie McLaren (Brisbane Roar), James Troisi (Melbourne Victory), Tom Rogic (Celtic)
Prediction: Group stages
Australia are only in the Confederations Cup to make up the numbers and I really think the Socceroos will struggle to even gain a point on the board against very tough opponents in group B.
They have a couple of talented players such as Mooy, Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Luzern striker Tomi Juric, while ex-Everton midfielder Tim Cahill brings a wealth of knowledge to the side for younger squad members to look for inspiration from.
However, I just cannot see Australia making any impact in Russia over the next few weeks. Their best chance of a win might come against Cameroon, but I have a feeling they will end up dead last in this group.
Cameroon were the last team to secure qualification for the Confederations Cup as 2017 African Cup of Nations winners, after they beat Egypt 2-1 in the final to lift their fifth African title.
This is Cameroon’s third time competing at the Confederations Cup, but a first since 2003 where they went all the way to the final before losing out to hosts France to finish as runners-up.
One to Watch: Christian Bassogog
21-year-old Christian Bassogog enjoyed a brilliant African Cup of Nations back in January, as he emerged as one of Cameroon’s brightest young talents and was voted payer of the tournament.
His brilliant performances no doubt catched the eye of many a team and he made the switch to Chinese Super League side Henan Jianye for £5m, joining the likes of Hulk, Alex Teixeira and Ramires in making the switch to China.
There is still a lot more to come from this talented young player and he will hope to get the chance to show what he is really made of on the bigger stage. If Bassogog continues his fine form for his country, Cameroon might pull off a shock in Russia.
Goalkeepers: Joseph Ondoa (Sevilla), Georges Bokwe (Mjondalen), Andre Onana (Ajax)
Defenders: Ernest Mabouka (MSK Zilina), Adolphe Teikeu (Sochaux), Michael Ngadeu (Slavia Prague), Ambroise Oyongo (Impact Montreal), Jerome Guihoata (Panionios), Collins Fai (Standard Liege), Lucien Owona (Alcorcon), Jonathan Ngwem (Sambizanga)
Midfielders: Andre Zambo Anguissa (Marseille), Georges Mandjeck (Metz), Sebastien Siani (Oostende), Arnaud Djoum (Hearts)
Forwards: Nicolas Ngamaleu (Rheindof), Benjamin Moukandjo (Lorient), Jacques Zoua (Kaiserslautern), Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas), Olivier Boumal (Panathinaikos), Christian Bassogog (Henan Jianye), Robert Tambe Ndip (Spartak Trnava), Karl Toko (Angers)
Prediction: Group stages
Cameroon enjoyed a great African Cup of Nations back in January by lifting the cup for the first time in 15 years, but they face much tougher tests in Russia.
Fans will no doubt look to 21-year-old Bassogog once again to lead the team after his impressive African Cup of Nations displays, while Beskitas striker Vincent Aboubakar will also be a threat up front.
Manager Hugo Broos led the side to glory playing high-tempo football and has a lot of talented young players, but this is a much tougher test for them. I think they will put up a brave fight, but I predict they will exit after finishing third in group B.
Chile booked their spot in the Confederations Cup two years ago when they lifted the Copa America for the first time, by defeating Argentina in a penalty shootout in 2015.
Chile are one of three teams making their debut at the Confederations Cup along with Euro 2016 winners Portugal and hosts Russia. It is the first time since 1995 that Brazil won’t compete in the tournament as the CONBEMOL representative.
Key Player: Alexis Sanchez
All eyes will be on Arsenal winger Alexis Sanchez in Chile’s debut appearance in the Confederations Cup, as the 28-year-old looks to follow up on an impressive season for the Gunners by helping his country to glory in Russia.
Sanchez finished as the Premier League’s third highest goalscorer last season with 24 goals, but his excellent run of form towards the end of the season was not enough to help Arsenal secure Champions League football.
The former Barcelona man is the country’s joint-highest ever goalscorer alongside Marcelo Salas with 37 goals and was a key figure in the team to help Chile lift a first ever Copa America in 2015.
Goalkeepers: Claudio Bravo (Man City), Christopher Toselli (Universidad Catolica), Johnny Herrera (Universidad de Chile)
Defenders: Eugenio Mena (Sport Recife), Enzo Roco (Cruz Azul), Mauricio Isla (Cagliari), Paulo Diaz (San Lorenzo), Jean Beausejour, Gonzalo Jara (both Universidad de Chile), Gary Medel (Inter)
Midfielders: Francisco Silva (Cruz Azul), Jose Fuenzalida (Universidad Catolica), Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich), Pablo Hernandez,Marcelo Diaz (both Celta Vigo), Felipe Gutierrez (Internacional), Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Forwards: Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal), Angelo Sagal (Huachipato), Eduardo Vargas (Tigres UANL), Martin Rodriguez (Cruz Azul), Leonardo Valencia (Palestino), Edson Punch (Necaxa)
I really like the look of this Chile team and after seeing of the likes of Brazil and Argentina to lift the Copa America two years ago, I think Chile are a real threat to win the whole competition in Russia.
Sanchez is without a doubt the man the fans will hope inspire Chile to glory in the Confederations Cup, but they are far from a one man team with Arturo Vidal and Charles Aranguiz among other very talented players in the squad.
I think Chile might have to settle for second in the group,but they could nab top spot if Germany are not really up for the tournament. Second place could bring up a semi-final with Portugal and I think Portugal have just a bit more about them to reach the final.
Germany compete in the 2017 Confederations Cup as the reigning World Champions, after Mario Gotze’s extra time winner saw Germany beat Argentina in the World Cup final three years ago in Brazil.
It will be Germany’s third time appearing in the competition, but it is the first time they will compete as world champions. Their best result was third on home soil in 2005, beating Mexico in a third-placed play-off after a semi-final defeat to Brazil.
Key Player: Joshua Kimmich
Germany have not brought a lot of their star players to Russia with Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Thomas Muller not making the trip, but they still have a talented young bunch to choose from, including Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich.
The 22-year-old has just enjoyed a decent season with Bayern Munich last season making 40 appearances for the Bundesliga champions, and offers great versatility to the squad playing either as a right-back or a holding midfielder.
Kimmich is one of Germany’s brightest young talents and there is definitely more to come from him over the coming years. He impressed at Euro 2016 last summer and will hope to make more impact in Russia by helping Germany to a first Confederations Cup.
Goalkeepers: Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen), Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (PSG)
Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund), Jonas Hector (Cologne), Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen), Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), Shkodran Mustafi (Arsenal), Marvin Plattenhardt (Hertha Berlin), Antonio Rudiger (Roma), Niklas Sule (Hoffenheim)
Midfielders: Julian Draxler (PSG), Leon Goretzka (Schalke), Kerem Demirbay, Sebastian Rudy (both Hoffenheim), Lars Stindl (Borussia Monchengladbach), Emre Can (Liverpool), Amin Younes (Ajax), Leroy Sane (Man City), Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen), Diego Demme (Leipzig)
Forwards: Sandro Wagner (Hoffenheim), Timo Werner (Leipzig)
There is no doubt that the World Champions will get out of their group but with several key men not been included such as Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels, does this show Germany are not particularly bothered by competition.
Nevertheless, Joachim Low is still taking a very talented young squad to Russia such as Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, Timo Werner and Julian Brandt just to name a few, while Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane will also be ones to keep an eye on down the wings.
Their match against Chile will be the deciding factor but I think Germany will just edge past them to gain top spot and a semi-final against Mexico. They should be good enough to reach the final, but I think that is where they will come up short against Portugal.