Respective reigning world and Copa America champions Germany and Chile are the two clear favourites to advance from Group B of the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017. Doing battle with them there will be Australia, who are representing Asia for the very first time, and the African champions, whose identity will be revealed on 5 February.
Though Germany and Australia both have extensive Tournament of Champions experience under their belts, having respectively made two and three previous appearances in the competition, neither have won it. The three-time FIFA World Cup™ winners’ best performance to date came when they finished third in hosting the 2005 competition. The Socceroos came even closer to lifting the trophy at Saudi Arabia 1997, reaching the final, where they lost 6-0 to a Romario-inspired Brazil.
In contrast, Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Chile are making their debut in the tournament and will be anxious to prove themselves. Boasting the greatest generation of players in their history, La Roja will travel to Russia on the back of their most sustained run of success, having won consecutive continental titles at the 2015 Copa America and the 2016 Copa America Centenario. Cameroon, meanwhile, have similar past pedigree in the competition to Germany and Australia, reaching the final in 2003. While they lost out to France on that occasion, they will turn up in Russia with a reputation as a hard to beat side. They lifted their fifth continental title thanks to some resilient displays in Gabon, eventually triumphing over Egypt in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations final in part thanks to a spectacular winner from burly striker Vincent Aboubakar.
Germany-Chile, 22 June, Kazan
The first Confederations Cup meeting between these two countries, which comes on Matchday 2 in Group B, will be their seventh in all. Die Mannschaft have the upper hand in the head-to-head, having won five of those previous meetings. The most recent was a 2014 friendly that came prior to their triumphant World Cup campaign in Brazil and which was settled by a goal from Mario Gotze, Germany’s hero at the Maracana a few months later. The records show that La Roja have never beaten the Germans in an official tournament match, an unwanted run they will be hoping to end in Russia.
Did you know?
Though Russia 2017 will be Australia’s fourth Confederations Cup appearance, it is the first in which the Socceroos will be taking part as the representatives of the Asian confederation. In stepping out at Saudi Arabia 1997, where they finished runners-up, Korea/Japan 2001, where they came third, and Germany 2005, where they failed to progress beyond the group phase, they did so as champions of Oceania. Admitted to the AFC in January 2006, the Australians secured their place at Russia 2017 by winning the 2015 AFC Asian Cup on home soil.
3 - *the number of national team coaches who have won both the FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup, all three of whom are Brazilian. The first to achieve the feat was Mario Zagallo, who took Brazil to the world title at Mexico 1970 and won the Tournament of Champions with them in 1997, while Carlos Alberto Parreira was the second, scoring the double with *A Seleçao *at USA 1994 and the 2005 Confederations Cup. The last member of this very select band is Felipe Scolari, a World Cup winner with his country at Korea/Japan 2002 and the man who steered the South Americans to a fourth Tournament of Champions triumph in 2013. Should he guide Germany to the trophy at Russia 2017, Joachim Low will join them.