This weekend sees the group stages of the 2017 Confederations Cup come to an end, and it’s Group A who are up first on Saturday. The standings in this group see Portugal, Mexico, and Russia all fighting it out for the last 2 places in order to progress to the semis while New Zealand are already out. Portugal are the favourites to top the group because they play New Zealand but Russia will need to beat Mexico to go through. Both teams will play at the same time so no one has any sort of advantage and I guess it would make it dramatic in any other competition than the Confederations Cup.
New Zealand will be struggling for any column inches back home with the British and Irish Lions in town while it’s a stark contrast for Cristiano Ronaldo, who is the most talked about sportsman in the world at the moment due to his uncertain future. Don’t be surprised if you see either team field a weakened side because both managers will want to keep their squad happy. That could see the now former Braintree Town striker, Monty Patterson, go up against Real Madrid superstar, Cristiano Ronaldo. Patterson is now back at his parent club, Ipswich, having only been on loan at Braintree – just some info for those who want to follow his development.
Meanwhile, Mexico face off against the hosts Russia, who have probably been the most boring team in the tournament so far – not much to shout about for the locals ahead of the World Cup next year. On the other hand, the Mexican team that played against Portugal has been the most entertaining to watch but the weakened team that played against New Zealand was hardly easy-on-the-eye. Neither team have any Premier League players so I’ll forgive you if you choose not to watch this one.
The winner of Group A will play the runner-up of Group B and the winner of Group B will play 2nd in Group A but I’m not sure any of the Group A teams will reach the final due to none of them really impressing so far. Vladimir Putin and the rest of the Russian fans will be desperate to see their average team make it into the semis but I’m afraid that would be another uninspiring game for me to moan about involving the Russians. It’s a shame they have a guaranteed place in next summer’s World Cup, I’ll put it that way.