The semifinals of the FIFA Confederations Cup, Mexico 1999, bring encounters between two highly-rated participants and two teams whose appearance in the last four may come as a surprise to many.
Hosts Mexico met next-door neighbours USA in a CONCACAF clash of giants. Most recent statistics are clearly in favour of "El Tri". The fixture has been a classic ever since the US team became a serious competitor for the Mexican squad in the early nineties. In Guadalajara, titleholders Brazil take on surprise package Saudi Arabia and are expected to win hands down despite the Saudis' 5-1 thrashing of Egypt in the decisive group match.
Contrary to wide-spread media polemics prior to the Cup, the event has produced some first-class performances from most participants, drawing - on almost every match day - large crowds which were rewarded with spectacular action and a great number of splendid goals, particularly free-kick set-pieces.
While the German team, without some key players, under performed and could not live up to the mark, newcomers New Zealand showed some spirited attacking football although losing all its three matches. The other two teams, Bolivia and Egypt, did well and could have qualified for the semifinals but did not seize their chance in the crucial games on Thursday.