Spain’s 2-0 victory over South Africa this afternoon set a new world record for consecutive wins, with 15 (also, Spain has no gone 35 matches without losing, which breaks another Brazilian record). They broke the old record of 14, held by Brazil. It was, in fact, the most noteworthy thing to happen today in a lackluster day at the Confederations Cup. I will say that Spain looked good but their first real challenge will be in the semi-finals versus either Brazil or Italy (likely Italy, though my crystal ball has been off for about a year).
In the other semi-final, Iraq looked like crap while New Zealand got their first point ever in Confederations Cup competition. Gotta have something to hang your hat on, eh?
David Villa scoring his goal (Getty Images)
Today’s Confederations Cup action saw no surprises.
Spain 1-0 Iraq: I suppose one could be surprised by the fact that Spain only scored one measly goal. And that it took them 55 minutes to score. I suppose I could criticize David Villa for not appearing to be worth the absurd amounts of money being thrown around. But at least the goal he did score was really good.
Iraq’s tactics were clearly based on Chelsea’s tactics versus Barcelona in the Champion’s League. That is, they packed, at times, all 10 outfield players in front of the ball. The thing that sort of impressed me was that they closed the ball down quickly, unlike New Zealand, which attempted to slow the game down on Monday. It’s a credit to Iraq’s coach, legendary wanderer Bora Milutinovic, that they were able to push Spain as far as they did.
In any event, Spain is through to the semi-finals. Perhaps they’ll play someone good there. Oh, and that’s 35 straight wins, tying Brazil’s record.
South Africa 2-0 New Zealand: New Zealand are clearly the worst team in the field because South Africa is not nearly as good as they looked today. Though Bernard Parker’s goal celebrations were interesting. Anyone know where that comes from? I feel sort of bad saying this, but I’m going to anyway: Oceania’s champion should not be in the Confederations Cup. In fact, Oceania should probably be folded into the Asian Confederation because the former is not nearly competitive enough.
That said, South Africa looked good. They might qualify for the semi-finals but they’ll need New Zealand to win or draw against Iraq. I doubt it, though. So South Africa really needs to hope the Kiwis allow fewer than 2 goals.
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.