2013 Confederations Cup Betting Advice
by Trevor Whenham - 6/20/2013
The 2013 Confederations Cup is currently underway in Brazil, with the finals set to be played on June 30 after the current field of eight teams plays down to two. The tournament is primarily useful as a dress rehearsal for the World Cup hosts a year before they enter the spotlight, but it can be a useful preview of some higher level of competition for teams that we can expect to contend in the World Cup.
Bettors need to be careful not to attach too much attention to the results of the tournament, because they have not directly translated to the World Cup. In the current format, the Confederations Cup has been played the year before the last four World Cups. None of the eventual World Cup winners have won the Cup, and none have even come close. The closest was in 1998 when Brazil ran away with the inaugural Confederations Cup and then lost the World Cup in the finals to France. That tournament was somewhat different, though — it was held in Saudi Arabia instead of World Cup host France, and the French weren’t even in the field.
The eight-team field is made up of the host, the defending World Cup champs, and the winners of the most recent tournaments in each region. That means that Brazil and Spain are joined by Japan from the AFC, Mexico from CONCACAF, Uruguay from CONMEBOL, Tahiti from the OFC, and Nigeria from the CAF. Spain also won Euro 2012, so Italy takes the UEFA spot as the Euro 2012 runner-up. Brazil, Italy, Mexico and Japan were placed in Group A, with the latter two already eliminated from contention after the first two of three elimination games. Nigeria, Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti make up Group B.
As we watch the rest of the tournament play out, here’s a look at the storylines to keep an eye on with an eye towards World Cup 2014 (odds to win the Confederations Cup are from Bovada)
Can Brazil (11/8) focus in the face of distractions?
The pressure is always intense for the Brazilians at the World Cup, but as hosts that pressure will be ratcheted up about seven more notches. It will be crazy. The team has had disappointing early exits in the last two events after winning in 2002. They have talent and depth as always, and they are strong favorites to win the World Cup at 10/3. In recent years, though, it has been too easy to question their heart and focus when things really matter — they lost both of their World Cup elimination games more because they didn’t seem to want it badly enough than because they weren’t good enough.
On top of all the pressure the location brings the team, there is some rising uncertainty about just how much of an advantage home-field will be. There have been demonstrations outside of stadiums during the tournament over the amount of public money that has been spent getting ready for the World Cup as inflation rages in the country. The presidents of Brazil and FIFA were heavily booed when introduced at the opening ceremonies as well. The Brazilians love their team more than anything, but their support may not be as unquestioned and fierce as some would expect.
Is Mexico really this bad?
Mexico is a team I really want to like. They were one of my longshot picks in the last World Cup, and I was hoping that they could be again in 2014. They have looked lethargic through recent qualification, though, and in this tournament they have looked beyond terrible. They lost 2-1 to Italy in their opener, but that score was flattering. Then they looked totally outclassed in a 2-0 loss to Brazil to knock them out of contention. They have only a meaningless game against Japan remaining, but it would be nice to see the team play with some pride, harmony, and at least a fraction of the skill that they have. Nothing will be enough to make them attractive at the World Cup at 33/1, but it would be a start.
Will Spain be Spain?
The Spanish (5/4) obviously have a massive target on their backs. They are not only the defending World Cup Champions, but they have won the Euro each of the last two times it has been played as well. It’s an almost impossible streak. There are more than a few people that think that the glory days could be starting to pass the Spaniards by as they age and change, and oddsmakers seem to agree to some extent — they are tied with Argentina and Germany as the 5/1 second choice in the World Cup well behind Brazil. A strong performance here could help quiet the critics and could draw even more public money towards the team. They got off to a nice start with a win over Uruguay, but everyone is looking ahead to a potential championship showdown with Brazil. It’s important not to get too excited or disappointed regardless of what happens here, though. In 2009 the Spaniards lost to the Americans in the Confederations Cup semifinals in a very flat performance, so they don’t necessarily highly value this event.
Can Uruguay finally take the next step?
Uruguay (14/1) is a sexy longshot pick for next year’s World Cup (currently at 40/1). They have rising talent, excellent top-end strength, and the advantage of playing close to home in front of crowds that should be stuffed with their supporters. They’ll face pressure, though, and this is our first chance to see if they are up to handling it. They played Spain tough in their opener but came up short. Now they need to survive their group then really elevate their game in the elimination round. It won’t be easy for them — their most likely path to the championship would travel through both Brazil and Spain. I’m obviously not that optimistic about their chances, but I’d still like to see them give it a strong fight.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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