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2017 Confederations Cup Favorites

By Taylor Smith in Sports
| June 19, 2017 12:00 am PDT
2017 confederations cup

You may not have heard of the Confederations Cup, and that’s probably because it doesn’t rank too highly on FIFA’s list of huge, worldwide tournaments. It’s essentially a World Cup warm-up hosted the year prior to soccer’s biggest event in the country that will host the WC the next year. With the World Cup on the horizon in 2018, Russia takes its crack at hosting the Confederations Cup this summer.

The tournament began over the weekend and it pits confederation winners from around the world against one another. The field for the 2017 version of the Confederations Cup is as follows:

  • Russia (2018 World Cup hosts)
  • Germany (2014 World Cup winner)
  • Australia (2015 AFC Asian Cup winner)
  • Chile (2015 Copa America winner)
  • Mexico (2015 CONCACAF Cup winner)
  • New Zealand (2016 OFC Nations Cup winner)
  • Portugal (2016 Euro winner)
  • Cameroon (2017 Africa Cup of Nations winner)

The eight teams are split into two groups with the top two teams from each group advancing. Below are the four teams in each group along with their odds of winning said group:

  • Group A: Portugal (-115), Mexico (+270), Russia (+275), New Zealand (+10000)
  • Group B: Germany (-105), Chile (+135), Cameroon (+650), Australia (+1800)

Through three matches, Russia tops Group A with three points, while Chile is atop Group B with three of their own. Mexico and Portugal own a point apiece after they engaged in a 2-2 draw on Sunday. New Zealand and Cameroon are at the bottom of their respective groups after losing their first games.

Per 5Dimes, here are the odds to win the entire tournament:

  • Portugal +250
  • Germany +260
  • Chile +275
  • Russia +900
  • Mexico +900
  • Cameroon +2500
  • Australia +5000
  • New Zealand +50000

There are plenty of big-name players set to take the field in this tournament, but most of the more well-known teams aren’t fielding their best-possible sides. As a result, this tournament is fairly wide open right now. Let’s break down a few of the contenders.

Portugal +250

Portugal comes into this one with some momentum after a shocking run to the Euro 2016 title. They don’t play the prettiest style, as they typically prefer to sit back, absorb pressure and hit back on the counterattack. Cristiano Ronaldo is obviously the headliner, but they’re without a few key cogs that helped them last summer. Most notably missing from the roster is Renato Sanches, who struggled mightily in limited time last season with Bayern Munich.

Portugal appeared to rescue all three points with two goals in the final 10 minutes against Mexico before Hector Moreno equalized late in the team’s first cup game. They depend on Ronaldo a ton, but it’s always been that way. He’s capable of carrying them through the tournament, but they also showed last year that they’re capable of getting results even without him. Portugal toppled France in the Euro final even after Ronaldo left the game early due to injury.

Next year’s World Cup could be something of a last hurrah for this Portugal side as we know it. In addition to Ronaldo, several of their major contributors, including Ricardo Quaresma, Joao Moutinho, Jose Fonte, Nani and Bruno Alves are on the wrong side of 30. They’re rightfully among the major contenders here, but we don’t really buy them as the odds-on favorites.

Germany +260

Joachim Low brought a young side to Russia for this tourney. They’ll sport a more veteran-heavy side at the World Cup next summer, but in the meantime Low will see what he has in some younger options. Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane are expected to take center stage for a team playing without the likes of Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Toni Kroos and several others.

The Germans didn’t look particularly impressive in their tournament-opener against Australia, but it’s fair to expect them to improve as the tourney goes along. There isn’t a single player over 29 on the roster, and most of these players haven’t gotten much first-team action in the past. Putting them right next to veteran-laden Portugal at the top here may be a bit much to ask of this side.

They have more talent than anybody else, but experience matters in competitions like this one. With so little experience in the side, it wouldn’t be particularly shocking to see the Germans bow out at the hands of a lesser team. Julian Draxler has played in more first-team games than any other German in the side, and he had 30 caps coming into this. That tells you all you need to know.

We won’t say a run to the final here is impossible, because it certainly isn’t. There are only four players from Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, which is incredibly unusual for Germany. There’s value here at +260, but they’ll need to fortify the defense before we’re comfortable picking them to win it all.

Chile +275

Alexis Sanchez isn’t quite as meaningful to Chile as Ronaldo is to Portugal, but it’s close. Despite Alexis being forced to come on as a substitute during their opener, the Chileans were still able to get past Cameroon to get their Confed Cup off on the right foot. This might be the most fun-to-watch team in the field. Chile aren’t afraid to rush players up the pitch in attack. While that certainly leaves them susceptible to deadly counters, they’re going to bum-rush the goal relentlessly.

Chile looked great in the first half against Cameroon but didn’t have a goal to show for it. The tide turned when Sanchez was introduced in the 58th minute, however, and they went on to enjoy a rather dominant 2-0 victory. They were a bit more conservative in the second half, and in the process showed that they’re capable of protecting a lead with sturdy defending.

This team got past Argentina in the Copa America final last summer, so we know they’re battle-tested. Argentina have arguably more talent than any other team in the world. Chile’s versatility will be key if they are to make a lengthy run in Russia this summer. Their progress will be hampered if Sanchez continues to be limited due to injury, but we like them at +275 here. Considering the field is fairly watered-down, there’s no reason to believe they can’t win a major tournament for the second summer in a row.

Mexico +900

Mexico have the same odds as Russia to win this tournament, which seems crazy. Russia is nowhere close to as talented as this Mexico side, as we saw when they went toe-to-toe with the European champs to get things started. Mexico is fielding one of the stronger sides in the field, so it’s curious to see them listed at +900.

We think they’re fully capable of winning this tournament, so they’re perhaps the best overall value of any team a +900. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez has emerged as a world-class striker, and Mexico should get plenty of contributions from the likes of Giovani Dos Santos, Hector Herrera and Oribe Peralta. This will look a lot like the team Mexico figures to put on the field during next summer’s World Cup, so we like them to take full advantage of the opportunity to put themselves on the map on the world stage a year ahead of time.

This team boasts a very strong combination of experience and youth, and they have everything you’d want of a potential contender. While we aren’t convinced they’re a strong enough team to truly make a run at the World Cup crown in 2018, there is far less resistance at the Confederations Cup.

We’ll stop short of tabbing Mexico as favorites, but something tells us they’re going to be a handful for any opponent.

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