After a day away, the Confederations Cup returns to stadiums in Russia and to our TV sets, you probably didn’t even notice it’d stopped for the day did you? Well, because there are only two groups, thankfully, there aren’t as many games as in the major tournaments and teams have to be given a proper break. Fear not though, as there are two matches on Wednesday from Group A; Portugal face hosts Russia while New Zealand go up against Mexico.
Cristiano Ronaldo is poised to start for Portugal despite ongoing problems back home as he is being chased by the taxman. His country will be looking to get all 3 points in their game with the Russians, but that’s not really Portugal’s style. Defensive-minded coach Fernando Santos didn’t win a single game in normal time at last year’s Euros and it worked for him. If Portugal do win, then they will almost certainly progress as their last game is against New Zealand, and if they don’t beat them they don’t deserve to be in the semi-finals.
Mexico should capitalise on New Zealand’s frail defence with their attractive, attacking play. If Stefan Marinovic keeps his place in the New Zealand goal, he will have to be on top form to keep the Mexicans at bay. The match in Sochi will be played in the Fisht Olympic Stadium and will be the second game held there during the Confederations Cup. It was opened in 2013, ready for the 2014 Winter Olympics but only served as a venue for the opening and closing ceremonies – what did you expect? You can’t play ice hockey outside in a Mediterranean climate.
England are represented in the Confederations Cup as well, and I don’t mean there are English referees… that doesn’t count. Anthony Hudson is the New Zealand manager and is a promising, young, English coach but was born in the United States. His playing career was short and he took up coaching where he has found himself in New Zealand via Maryland, Spurs, Newport County and Bahrain as well as coaching the New Zealand U23s. So, if your summer is lacking an Englishman falling short at an international tournament then here’s something for you.
Day Five at the Confederations Cup should be a cracker as the four teams in Group A do battle in Russia. Cristiano Ronaldo has had heavy, personal security in Russia and he might need it if he scores the winner against the hosts with Vladimir Putin sure to be in attendance.