Confederations Cup: Players to watch out for (Part 1)

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The biggest prize of International football in 2017, The FIFA Confederations Cup is finally here. The tournament features Russia (Hosts), Germany (World Champions), Portugal (European Champions), Chile (South American Champions), Mexico (North American Champions), Australia (Asian Champions), Cameroon (African Champions) and New Zealand (Oceanian Champions) divided into 2 groups.

Group A: Russia, Mexico, Portugal, New Zealand.
Group B: Germany, Chile, Australia, Cameroon.

In this first part let us discuss about players to watch out for in Group A:

1. Players to look out for in the Russia team:

Alexander Golovin: The CSKA Moscow midfielder is one of the hottest prospects in the world right now. The 21-year old has been branded as his nation’s Brightest Young Star by former Russia Coach Leonid Slutsky. The host nation’s success in the tournament will depend a lot on how this Arsenal target performs on the big stage.

Aleksei Miranchuk: The Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder is another young talent who will have a big role to play in how Russia fares this summer. The 21-year old was instrumental in his club’s Russian Cup winning in the recently concluded season. The former Russian Player of the year is one of the 10 rising stars who was funded by “Backed By Messi” in the inaugural year of its inception.

Igor Akinfeev: The 31-year old will be leading the Sbornaya in the tournament. The CSKA Moscow goalkeeper has 98 caps for his national team and is their fourth most capped player in history. The top ranked member of the Lev Yashin Club‘s form will determine Russia’s progress in the tournament.

Yuri Zhirkov: The former Chelsea midfielder was included in the team of the tournament way back in the UEFA Euro 2008. The Russian fans will hope that the 7th most capped Russian player in history will be recreating some of that form this summer on home soil for the national team.

2. Players to look out for in the New Zealand team:

Sam Brotherton: The 20 year old had signed for English club Sunderland at the beginning of this year. Yet to make a first team start for his new club, the young defender has already 7 caps for the All Whites. Anthony Hudson will be hoping the youngster performs well for his team on the big stage.

Bill Tuiloma: The 22-year old midfielder made history becoming the first ever player from Down Under to play in Ligue 1 when he signed with Olympique Marseille. He’ll surely have an important role to play for his country this summer.

Chris Wood: The All Whites’ captain has been in red hot form in front of the goal for his club Leeds United this season scoring 30 goals in 48 appearances. The 25-year old will surely look to add to his tally of 19 goals for his national side in the coming weeks.

Ryan Thomas: The 22-year is hailed as the hottest Kiwi prospect in a long time by many. The speedy winger has a knack of scoring goals and his team will be hoping he does the same in the competition.

3. Players to look out for in the Portugal team:

Raphael Guerreiro: The Borussia Dortmund left back has been instrumental in Portgual’s UEFA Euro 2016 triumph as well as his club’s DFB Pokal win. The 23-year old is a wonderful passer of the ball and also finds the back of the net at times.

Bernardo Silva: The 22-year old midfielder was a driving force behind AS Monaco’s Ligue 1 triumph and their UEFA Champions League semi final appearance this season. The crafty midfielder, who was signed by Manchester City this summer for £43.5 million, is going to be Fernando Santos’ main man at the centre of the park.

Andre Silva: The 21-year old is tipped to be the next big thing in Portuguese football. The new Portuguese number 9, who signed for Italian Giants AC Milan recently, will be one of the main man for A Selecção in front of the goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Undoubtedly the biggest attraction of the tournament will be this 4-times Ballon d’ Or winner. Fans all across the world will hope that the best player in the world produces his magic once again.

4. Players to look out for in the Mexico team:

Rafael Marquez: The 38-year “young” centre back has been a constant for the El Tricolor over the years. The veteran of 139 caps in the famous Green Shirt, RAFA produces nothing short of his very best every time he takes the field, and it is expected to be the same as well this time around.

Andres Guardado: The second most capped player (136) in the current side is the driving force behind the Mexico midfield. The Mexico fans will hope that the 30-year old will be producing his best if the 1999 champions are to repeat their feat once more.

Javier Hernandez: “Chicharito” will be the main man for Juan Carlos Osorio in front of the goal. The Bayer Leverkusen forward has scored 42 times for his national team and has been in pretty good form for his club this season. His goal poaching abilities make him one of the favourites for the Golden Boot award.

Hirving Lozano: The 21-year old Pachuca forward is the favourite to partner Chicharito upfront and together the two can be the most deadly striking duo in the tournament. With 18 goals in all competition for his club this season, he’ll be one player hard not pay attention to.

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