The Confederations Cup is a rather young tournament that was first played in 1997. The competition was originally played every two years until 2005, when it was decided that the tournament would be played every 4 years in the host-country of the forthcoming World Cup. Being rather young, the Confederations Cup lacks the status of a great international tournament but is an important springboard for many countries ahead of the biggest tournament of all: the World Cup.
The defending World Champions, next year’s World Cup hosts, and the champions of each of the six FIFA confederations qualify for the Confederations Cup. The pattern of the Cup is very simple: two groups of 4 teams play a group stage and the best two teams of each group face each other in the semifinals.
Despite being a very important preparation for the World Cup, winning the Confederations Cup doesn’t guarantee success in the biggest stage, as the recent years have shown. The winner of 2009, Brazil, was beaten by Netherlands in the quarterfinals of World Cup 2010. The same happened in 2006, when the defending winners of the Confederations Cup, Brazil once again, were beaten in the quarterfinal stage. In fact, the winner of the Confederations Cup has never won the World Cup in the following year, and the tournament is often remembered for its surprises. In 2001, Japan finished second, in 2005, Cameroon was the runner-up, and in 2009, it was USA who made it to the final.
During this year’s edition of the Confederations Cup, many have suggested that the competition is ruined by the large gaps between the teams, especially since Tahiti participated. While it is true that Tahiti is light years behind Spain in terms of pure quality, one must also remember that each and every team in the tournament has earned their spot in the same way, by winning their continental championships. For Tahiti, the task might have been easier, but it doesn’t remove the fact that the team has rightfully earned their spot in the tournament just like everyone else.
As the Confederations Cup works as a springboard for the forthcoming World Cup, it’s also an opportunity for the teams to test certain things and perhaps give chances to young and talented players who need international experience before the actual World Cup.
Thereby, the tournament is about a lot more than just the games themselves; it’s about bringing new players to the stage. Surely, in Tahiti’s case, this happens in a lot more radical way as all of their players are new to this level of international football. With their passion and desire, a team like Tahiti is nothing but a breath of fresh air.
When it comes to the strongest teams of the world of football, such as Spain and the host nation Brazil, the Confederations Cup is a great opportunity to test new things regarding different formations, strategies, and even squad selections. Spain, for example, has tested the usage of a striker instead of the false 9 that they have employed in the previous years. Brazil, on the other hand, have spent their latest international matches testing different formations and players, and the same has partly continued in the Confederations Cup as the hosts look to find the strongest possible squad for the World Cup.
All in all, the Confederations Cup might never have the status of a meaningful international tournament, but it’s definitely an important preparation for the teams and offers a great international experience to players who in other cases would never get to play against the world’s greatest players. The winner of the Confederations Cup might not be a guaranteed success in the World Cup, but success in any international tournament, especially in this day and age when Spain dominates the international football, is a definite confidence boost for whichever team manages to win.
Other teams look to show themselves and the public that Spain is not invincible, as Spain tries to hold on to the throne they’ve claimed in the recent years despite many suggesting that their era is over. Perhaps some see the Confederations Cup as a meaningless and unnecessary burden for the players after a long season with their clubs, but on the other hand, it gives a little sneak peek for the actual World Cup that is surely important, especially for the hosts.
Written by Jen Evelyn