So why should you care about the Confederations Cup?

Confederations Cup 2009

I’m glad you asked.

1. It’s a mini-World Cup. Eight teams, all champions of some sort (except the host nation, South Africa). All looking to prove something ahead of the real World Cup next year. Where else are you going to see Spain, Italy, and Brazil playing, other than a World Cup or some sort of super-duper friendly schedule? Nowhere, that’s where.

2. How good is the US? Will the Confederations Cup provide a concrete answer as to how good Bob Bradley’s boys are? No, I don’t think so. But it will be high quality competition with something on the line. International friendlies are great practice. But let’s be honest: with a trophy on the line, people try harder. The US will not send a B-team, like the Gold Cup. Spain’s A-team and Italy’s A-team will be on display. Not to mention everybody’s second favorite team, Brazil.

3. Is South Africa ready for the World Cup? We’ve all read the horror stories of getting stadiums prepared in South Africa. Consider this a dry run.

4. What will the underdogs bring to the table? The top dogs are Spain, Italy, and Brazil, likely in that order. The US exists in a netherworld between elite and underdog. That is, it should be able to beat the underdogs but likely can’t compete with the top dogs. So, what will South Africa, New Zealand, Egypt, and Iraq bring to the table? I’m hoping for competitive games to get all of those countries hyped for the World Cup.

Who are your key players to watch, esp. for the lesser known teams? List them all with short reasons below!

Prediction: Spain will take the Confederations Cup.

A bunch of games will be on ESPN, starting tomorrow (Sunday, July 14) at 10am EST.

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