Saturday, October 21, 2017

2017 Confederations Cup Matchday 1: Team-By-Team Analysis

Juan Pablo Aravena in Editorial 20 Jun 2017

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Russia 2017 Confederations Cup

Russia won their debut 2-0 against New Zealand – Credit: SI

Matchday 1 of the 2017 Confederations Cup is in the books. All eight teams had their debuts, and we can see some teams already look better than others.

The SoccerNews Team has prepared a detailed analysis on a team-by-team basis. We will look at the strengths and weaknesses each side showed in their first game of the tournament.

Russia

Russia must be one of the toughest teams to analyse after the first game. They had the home advantage, played in the first game, and did it against the weaker side in the tournament. As such, anything other than a win would have been a huge disappointment. But the hosts delivered, and defeated a sluggish New Zealand side by a convincing 2-0 score.

They did what they were supossed to do, and winning the first game of a tournament is not easy even if you are playing at home. However, we have to wait until they take on bigger sides such as Portugal and Mexico to further examine what they are made of.

New Zealand

Let’s be honest here. No one expected New Zealand to unsettle Russia in the tournament’s first game. And every football fan knows they would be lucky to end with one point in the group stage. However, that can’t hide the fact that their performance against the hosts was deeply below the standards required for this tournament.

The Kiwis looked outmatched on both ends of the pitch. Defensively they seemed to struggled every time Russia added a bit of pace to their movements. And they also struggled offensively to the point they only registered three shots on target. They must improve substantially if they want to compete against Portugal and Mexico.

Portugal

Cristiano Ronaldo led Portugal to the title in the EURO 2016, but will he do it again this year? It’s safe to say they also started the 2017 Confederations Cup with a disappointing result. They were seconds away from defeating Mexico, but settled for a 2-2 draw after conceding a goal on stoppage time.

There are several things to analyse in Portugal’s performance here. First of all, Cristiano Ronaldo did not score. And even though he had a tough time to unsettle the opposing defence, he still registered an assist in Ricardo Quaresma’s goal. And we have to highlight the entrance of Gelson Martins as well. The right winger came off the bench in the second half, and started the play that led to Portugal’s second goal.

The team needs to improve defensively, because they looked poor on aerial duels, and the pace of Mexico complicated them more than one would have expected.

Mexico

Mexico had the tough task of playing against the reigning European champions in their debut. And even though El Tri at times did not look very good, a last-minute goal from Hector Moreno allowed them to salvage a 2-2 draw that should keep their qualifying chances alive.

Despite the fact they conceded twice, Mexico showed an interesting defensive work. Thanks to a rotation system implemented by Juan Carlos Osorio, the Mexican defense managed to contain Cristiano Ronaldo through the majority of the game. They possess a lot of quality upfront thanks to players such as Giovani dos Santos, Javier Hernandez and Carlos Vela, but the game against Portugal revealed they need a lot of work to function together.

The one silver lining is that Russia and New Zealand should be far easier than Portugal. But they can’t get complacent, because otherwise they might risk to suffer an early exit from the tournament.

Chile

Based on the fact that Chile started their opener against Cameroon without two of their best players, and if we consider the strength of the opposition, it does not seem far-fetched to say the reigning Copa America champions were the best team after Matchday 1 of the competition.

Chile defeated Cameroon comfortably by a 2-0 score, but they also had one goal incorrectly ruled out and could have added at least a few more had they been more accurate in the first half. They had almost 70% of possession against a physical, strong opponent such as Cameroon, and they dominated the game despite the fact that Claudio Bravo and Alexis Sanchez were not in the starting lineup.

There is no doubt that Germany will represent a tougher challenge for La Roja. But it is undeniable that Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men started the tournament hitting all the right notes.

Cameroon

Several African experts declared prior to the Confederations Cup that Cameroon would be a shocking participant, mostly because their win in the 2017 African Cup of Nations came out of nowhere. And if we judge their performance against Chile as their benchmark for the tournament, then those experts were right. Cameroon looked completely outmatched by Chile on both sides of the ball.

The Indomitable Lions will have a golden chance to capture three points when they play against Australia on Thursday. But they need to improve considerably if they want to get a positive result. They committed several defensive mistakes against Chile, and Australia already evidenced they can exploit that.

Germany

Joachim Low’s men have always been listed as one of the favourites to win the trophy. And even though they kicked off their campaign with a 3-2 win over Australia, it is not a secret that they did not perform as well as many expected.

Germany showed an incredible attacking power, where the presence of Julian Draxler already shows the PSG winger can be one of the best players of the tournament. However, they also looked a bit sluggish on the defensive end. And while their problems might be fixed with a few more training sessions, they have to improve quickly. Chile will be a tougher opponent than Australia, and they can’t afford a loss here.

Australia

Australia were considered the weaker side in Group B before the start of the tournament. And even though they lost 2-3 to Germany in the opener, they showed several interesting things. They will be a tough side to defeat, even considering all their shortcomings on both ends of the pitch.

As stated above, Australia showed they can pull the upset when given enough space. But Germany’s alternative squad is far from a finished product defensively. Better sides will not give them so many licenses in the final third. And The Socceroos also revealed some defensive problems of their own, the same ones that plagued them against Brazil in a friendly match earlier this month. They must tighten things up if they want to avoid another early exit at a major tournament.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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