Friday, June 14, 2013

La Roja vs. La Celeste – A Quick Look


There isn't anything interesting happening these days on the club football front but the next most interesting thing is about to come up: the Confederations Cup – and its starts this weekend. It’s a small, 2-group tournament that ‘in theory’ features the best international teams of their respective FIFA geographic region. With Brazil taking up the slot of the host nation, Uruguay (which boasts of a pretty good team) comes in to represent South America. And with Spain coming in as World Champions, Europe’s will have an added representative to the tournament in the form of Prandelli’s refreshing Euro-2012 runners-up Italy.
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The match to look forward to this weekend will have to be Group B’s opening match between World and European Champions Spain vs. South American Champions Uruguay. Whether you’re one to favor the odds of the clear favorite (Spain) or one who fancies the rewards of going for the underdog (Uruguay), the match is ripe for a shot at a 3 Strikes Bet. For those looking to ‘explore the angles’ on what key the key tips on the match may be, here are some of my thoughts on the 2 teams who will open up the Confederation Cup’s tasty Group B.
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La Roja – Sheer Squad Quality with a few tiny Question Marks
After a 6-month layoff from Club Football, is Captain Iker Casillas ready to lead Spain to another trophy?
After winning 3 consecutive major tournaments dating back from Euro 2008, it’s scary to consider that Spain’s squad has become even stronger. Bit part players who proved to be key off-the-bench contributors in their previous tournaments wins are all now fully capable of playing critical roles in the team. The likes of Javi Martinez, Juan Mata, Santi Cazorla and Cesc Fabregas were all merely substitutes in Spain’s previous tournament conquests but are all now more than ever ready for a place in the Starting XI of Del Bosque’s team. Javi Martinez in particular, now a treble winner at Bayern is a lock for the injured Alonso’s spot in the XI while the London-based Mata (Chelsea) and Cazorla (Arsenal) are likely to have much more playing time in lieu of the less-than-100% Xavi.
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The tiny question marks for Spain however will come from whether the fatigue factor will creep into the picture. Will the fact that they’ve played a major tournament every summer since 2008 affect their fitness or focus in this tournament. Let’s not forget that La Roja were beaten by the USA in the last Confederations Cup. And while Spain’s possession-based style of play will not be in jeopardy, we may see tiny question marks with regards to 2 important positions for them: goalkeeper and striker. Iker Casillas has not played club football in 6 months, Victor Valdes is in the midst of a prolonged exit at Barca while Pepe Reina’s last season at Liverpool has not been a glowing one. On the other side of the pitch, Vicente Del Bosque will need to decide on whether he will repeat Euro 2012’s ‘false 9’ approach with Silva / Fabregas or take a stab at the use of his less-preferred strikers (Villa, Torres, Soldado).
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La Celeste – Sheer Firepower
The Suarez-Cavani Combo will surely serve us with some mouth-watering moments
Where Spain find themselves grappling over their striking options, Uruguay’s front line on the other hand are the envy of World Football. Liverpool’s 50m Euro-rated Luis Suarez and Napoli’s 63m Euro-rated Edinson Cavani are more than enough to worry Spain’s Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique. With their pace, Suarez’s trickery and work rate, and Cavani’s peerless finishing and aerial presence are a guarantee for goals (the 2 have scored a combined 68 goals for their clubs).
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Without a midfield or a defense to match the quality of their front line however, Uruguay are likely to set themselves up to play on the counterattack. With the solid and reliable Fernando Muslera (the Galatasaray GK is a reportedly being considered by Barcelona) on goal, and a defense which features Juventus’ Martin Caceres and Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin, La Celeste will need to keep it tight at the back, use their midfield to blunt Spain and ‘exit’ the ball to their fearsome front line to play ‘in the channels’ against the Spanish Back 4.
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Uruguay’s midfield may not intimidate anyone, but they have the firepower where it really counts.
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The Next 2 Weeks


The next 2 weeks will offer all of us a welcome break from the irritatingly repetitive transfer speculation thanks to the Confederations Cup. Here’s to looking forward to some quality football in the coming days.

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