THE six FIFA confederation championship winners join hosts Russia and world champions Germany in the scrap to claim Confederations Cup glory this summer. International football fanatic Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) shares his thoughts on the outright market.
Confederations Cup | Outright | 17th June – 2nd July 2017 | ITV
This week marks exactly one year away from the start of the 2018 World Cup and Russia get the opportunity for a dress rehearsal this summer when hosting the Confederations Cup.
The eight-nation tournament rarely makes global headlines but in an off-season without a major international tournament, the action will fill a much-needed void in football fans (and punters) lives.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Alexis Sanchez and Braintree Town’s Monty Patterson will all be on show as the countries are split into two groups of four. The top two teams progress to the semi-finals with the eventual champion crowned on 2 July 2017.
As well as hosts Russia, world champions Germany are joined by the six FIFA confederation championship winners. They are: Portugal (Europe), Mexico (North and Central America), New Zealand (Oceania), Australia (Asia), Cameroon (Africa) and Chile (South America).
Brazil have prevailed at the last three renewals (taking four crowns overall) whilst Argentina have also lifted the trophy, giving South American sides five titles from nine previous editions.
Considering the Samba Boys and La Albiceleste have also claimed a runners-up spot each as well, only two Confederations Cup finals have not featured a Copa America champion – that’s good news for Chile.
But upsets do occur, especially with the main focus for each nation on next summer. Denmark triumphed in 1995 whilst Saudi Arabia, Australia, Japan, Cameroon and the USA have all reached the final.
Germany and Portugal were battling it out at the top of the outright market for the majority of 2017 but as soon as it became clear that Joachim Low was fielding a second-string squad, Die Mannschaft’s price expanded leaving the Euro 2016 champions as 5/2 (Ladbrokes) favourites.
Portuguese supporters will be happy to learn that reigning European conquerors have collected gold on three previous occasions and whilst Fernando Santos has fielded a very strong squad with the intention of taking top honours, I’m not sold on the skinny outright odds on offer.
The Selecao are a devilishly difficult team to oust but it’s worth reiterating their European Championship triumph came on the back of just one victory in the regulation 90 minutes, including three group-stage draws.
Chile could prove too hot to handle
I’m comfortable dismissing Germany at the prices for the above reasoning and having already talked up pool rivals Chile as potential Group B winners, it makes sound sense to include La Roja in our outright book as 3/1 (Ladbrokes) shots.
Juan Antonio Pizzi’s inherited a fine squad, packed with experience and star quality. Although away World Cup qualifying results haven’t impressed, performances have steadily improved and there’s a familiarity and consistency to way in which the South Americans play.
I’m confident Chile can come through the more competitive Group B unscathed and La Roja have proved their worth in knockout tournaments over the past two summers to believe they have the potential to add a third successive summer crown to the trophy cabinet.
Mexico can make a mockery of generous quotes
1999 winners Mexico have reached two other Confederations Cup semi-finals in their history and El Tri’s ability to turn it on at major international tournaments marks the CONCACAF giants out as serious contenders.
Not that the odds would lead you to believe. Juan Carlos Osorio’s group are quoted at 10/1 (Betway) to go the distance – a price that suggests Mexico stand just a 9% chance of outright success, compared to a 55% chance of either Portugal or Germany landing the prize.
Despite constant criticism in the Mexican press for chopping and changing his team, Osorio’s results have brought El Tri’s supporters onside. And whilst sky-high, unfair expectations threaten to derail the national team, the 2017 side appear level-headed enough to perform well on the international stage.
Mexico have W18-D4-L2 under Osorio, losing just one competitive match. Veteran Rafa Marquez is perhaps the weak link in the group but their quality on the ball, versatility and options in the attack ensure El Tri will provide any side with a tough test in Russia.
I think Mexico are well placed to reach the final-four and a potential tie against understrength Germany or Chile in the offing, 10/1 quotes are appealing with an each-way stake returning profit should the Central Americans reach the final.