Are the reigning world champions ready to defend their title? The FIFA Confederations Cup always offers a good yardstick for answering this question, filling football fans everywhere with excitement and anticipation. The tenth edition of the ‘Festival of Champions’ will be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan and Sochi between 17 June and 2 July 2017, providing both a sporting and cultural taste of what is to come at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™.
Four of the eight competitors have already been confirmed with just under two years to go until the start of the contest, with Germany qualifying as winners of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. “One title is wonderful, but to reaffirm it with a second one will be a difficult task,” said national team coach Joachim Low, reflecting on the upcoming challenge in Russia during a FIFA.com interview.
Despite having previously taken part in two Confederations Cups, the four-time world champions have yet to lift the trophy. Captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and his team will do everything in their power to succeed defending and all-time leading champions Brazil – who will not be among the participants in 2017 – and gather crucial momentum ahead of the biggest showdown of all in the same country a year later.
In addition to world champions Germany and hosts Russia, Chile and Australia have also secured their places at the competition. La Roja qualified for the 2017 Confederations Cup by beating Argentina 4-1 on penalties in the final to seal their first-ever Copa America triumph on home soil this summer, while the Socceroos booked their ticket with victory at the AFC Asian Cup 2015, narrowly defeating Korea Republic 2-1 after extra time, also in front of a home crowd.
The next date football fans should mark in their calendar is Saturday 10 October 2015 at 18:00 local time, when the winners of the two most recent editions of the CONCACAF Gold Cup will contest a play-off at the Rose Bowl in the Californian city of Pasadena, USA, to determine who will represent the North, Central American and Caribbean Zone at the Festival of Champions in Russia in two years' time. USA emerged victorious in the 2013 tournament while Mexico won the 2015 edition just a few weeks ago.
Another contestant for the upcoming Confederations Cup will be determined at UEFA EURO 2016. Excitement is already building ahead of the finals in France, where for the first time 24 teams – instead of the usual 16 – will battle it out for the continental crown between 10 June and 10 July. Remarkably, Spain, 2010 world champions, will be seeking to lift the trophy for the third time in succession. Interestingly, European sides have only managed to hoist the FIFA Confederations Cup aloft on three previous occasions, with Denmark winning in 1995 before France prevailed in 2001 and 2003.
Oceania’s representatives at the Festival of Champions will also be revealed next year. Battling it out for glory at the OFC Nations Cup 2016 will be Tahiti, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu, plus one of Tonga, American Samoa, Cook Islands and Samoa, with the tournament winner qualifying for Russia 2017. The competition also serves as the second stage of the confederation’s qualifying phase for Russia 2018.
The winners of the next CAF Africa Cup of Nations, set to take place in Gabon in 2017, will eventually complete the eight-team field of competitors. Although holders Côte d’Ivoire will go into the tournament hoping to qualify for the Confederations Cup for the second time since 1992, other world-class contenders such as Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon will also be keen to dethrone their West African rivals for the chance to cause a sensation in Russia.
The draw for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2017 will take place in Kazan in November 2016.