Trio of world champions join the fray
© AFP

After tournament hosts and record FIFA World Cup™ winners Brazil got the ball rolling at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 yesterday, the reigning world champions follow suit today. In Group B Spain face Uruguay, victors at the inaugural FIFA World Cup, in Recife at 19:00 (local time).

Four-time world champions Italy are in action earlier in the day, getting their Group A campaign off the ground against Mexico in Rio de Janeiro. 

The matches
Mexico - Italy, Rio de Janeiro (Maracana stadium) - 16:00 (local time)
Spain - Uruguay, Recife (Arena Pernambuco) - 19:00 (local time)

The duel
Gerard Pique (ESP) - Edinson Cavani (URU)

The reigning world champions will need to do all they can to nullify last season's top scorer in Italy if they are to get their Confederations Cup off to a good start. The Barcelona defender will have to be at the top of his game if he is to keep Cavani in check, with the Uruguayan fresh off the back of scoring in the recent FIFA World Cup qualifying victory over Venezuela. However, after being part of the second-tightest defence in Spain as the Catalan side secured the La Liga title, Pique certainly has it in his locker to keep the Napoli man quiet.

The expert's view
"Mexico against Italy will be very interesting. Italy have a lot of experienced internationals and outstanding players in their ranks, but you shouldn't underestimate Mexico, even if they haven't been at their best in World Cup qualifying recently. Normally they up their game against more difficult opponents, as they've shown in previous games against Italy." Coach Bora Milutinovic, who has taken charge of five national teams (Mexico, Costa Rica, USA, Nigeria and China PR) during his career, in an interview with FIFA.com.

The fact
In Brazil, Italy, Spain and Uruguay, four FIFA World Cup winners are taking part in the tournament. Mexico may not have achieved that honour yet, but they nevertheless boast an impressive record of their own. Upon lifting the FIFA Confederations Cup trophy in 1999 they became the first and to date only CONCACAF representative ever to have done so, after beating Brazil 4-3 in the final on home soil. That title-decider on 4 August 1999 also drew the largest crowd in the competition’s history, with 110,000 fans cramming into Mexico City’s Azteca Stadium.

The anniversary
Japan 1-2 Mexico, 16 June 2005, Hanover (Germany)

In the opening Group B game at the FIFA Confederations Cup Germany 2005, Mexico beat Japan 2-1. Atsushi Yanagisawa put the Asians in front in the 12th minute, but Zinha levelled the scores in the 39th minute with a goal that FIFA.com and FIFA TV users recently voted as the best in the Festival of Champions’ history. Jose Fonseca netted the winner for the Mexicans in the 64th minute, prompting Japan coach Zico to reflect on an “unexpected defeat”, at the final whistle. The reverse was one of the reasons why the Blue Samurai were packing their bags for home after the group stage, having finished third behind Mexico and Brazil on goal difference alone.

The birthdays
Fernando Muslera (27, Uruguay
Cobi Jones (43, USA)
Bo Hansen (41, Denmark) 
Michel Pensee (40, Cameroon)
Giovanni Hernandez (37, Colombia)