The semi final line up of the FIFA Confederations Cup could hardly have been more predictable. Portugal and Mexico came out on top of group A, while Germany and Chile qualified via group B. The friendly tournament being held in Russia is a pre-cursor to next year’s World Cup, and involves the winners of each of FIFA’s regional confederation titles along with the winners of the last World Cup and the hosts of the next.
The four qualifiers were rarely troubled in two groups which laid bare the difference in quality between the various confederations. Portugal and Mexico both finished with seven points after drawing with each other and beating Russia and New Zealand, the Portuguese finishing first by virtue of goal difference. Russia did at least gain three points from their 2-0 victory over New Zealand, but the Kiwis were sent packing with zero points after conceding 8 goals and scoring just once in three matches.
Germany topped group B with seven points after beating Cameroon and Australia, while drawing with Chile. The South Americans came in second with five points after a 1-1 draw in their final match with Australia. The Aussies amassed two points thanks to that stalemate and a similar result against Cameroon, and the Africans finished bottom of the group with just a single point from the 1-1 draw against Australia.
It’s time for the real business to start now though, with a semi final each on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Portugal and Chile do battle on Wednesday evening, but we’ll start with Thursday’s game and Germany, who look a fair bet to beat Mexico.
Germany v Mexico
It’s a quite scary thought for the rest of the world that Germany have coasted to the semi finals here despite the absence of a host of first team players. Joachim Low rested plenty of top class talent this summer, probably with one eye on next year’s World Cup, so the likes of Ozil, Neuer, Kroos and Mueller are away on summer holidays. Draxler is the most experienced player in this squad, yet the Germans are still proving to be a match for anyone at this mini-tournament.
It won’t have escaped the attention of under-21 fans that the German youngsters have just made their way to the final of the Euro U21 Championship after beating England on penalties in the semis. With a second string and a youth squad that are among the best in this summers competitions, the future looks very bright indeed for the current World Cup holders.
Mexico opened their account with a 2-2 draw against Portugal, although they needed a 91st minute equaliser to take the point. A pair of 2-1 wins over New Zealand and Russia followed to take them through to this stage, but clean sheets are few and far between. Unlike Germany, Mexico have brought a decent squad with them including the likes of Hernandez, so they might well fancy their chances of an upset here.
Germany have been equally porous in this competition, something not usually associated with their efficient game. They conceded twice against Australia and once each against Cameroon and Chile, but did score three times in two of those games. Promising forward players Stindl and Werner have both put their names on the scoresheet and along with the likes of Draxler and Kimmich, there is plenty of attacking talent.
Portugal v Chile
Portugal made short work of Russia and New Zealand in their respective matches, beating the Russians 1-0 courtesy of an early Ronaldo goal, before a 4-0 thumping of the Kiwi’s in the final group match. Previously they had been held to a 2-2 draw against Mexico though, and Chile will certainly provide a stern test in this game.
For Chile, the opening 2-0 win over Cameroon gave them a solid start to the group campaign. two subsequent 1-1 draws against Germany and Australia confirmed their unbeaten record, but demonstrated that they are capable of holding the best and being held by inferior teams.
Most will be expecting an attacking game here, between two sides well known for free-flowing football. It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the two cancelled each other out as well though, and it could be that this match goes the distance. A draw after 90 minutes is most appealing between two teams that are of equally high quality.
Germany to beat Mexico
Thursday 29th June, 19:00 GMT
Portugal and Chile to Draw
Wednesday 28th June, 19:00 GMT
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