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Previewing The 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup

Former French footballer Marcel Desailly places the Confederations Cup Winner's Trophy on the podium during the opening of the FIFA Confederations Cup Park at Moscow's Muzeon park on April 29, 2017. The tournament will be held in four Russian cities from June 17 to July 2. / AFP PHOTO / Yuri KADOBNOV (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Outside of the FIFA World Cup, the FIFA Confederations Cup is the premier international football competition featuring the tournament hosts, the defending World Cup champions and the winners from all six confederations. The defending champions are Brazil but this year, they will be relinquishing that honor as a new team will be lifting the trophy in Russia. There are two groups of eight competing at the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup. Here is the Stoppage Time’s predicted order of finish for both Group A and Group B of the tournament.

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GROUP A

1. Portugal

What could be better than winning a double of La Liga and UEFA Champions League? Winning the Confederations Cup, of course! Cristiano Ronaldo has shown he can be a force at the club level. But can he deliver for his country? Fernando Santos’ Portugal have been tapped to win Group A not just because of CR7, but a strong supporting cast, including the Manchester City forward Bernardo Silva, AS Monaco midfielder Joao Moutinho, Borussia Dortmund defender Raphael Guerreiro and Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes.

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2. Mexico

A regular to the Confederations Cup due to the United States’ consistency at being second place in CONCACAF (though that is changing with Costa Rica’s rise to prominence), Juan Carlos Osorio’s Mexico is ready to issue a stern challenge to Portugal at this tournament. The usual suspects are back: LA Galaxy’s Giovani Dos Santos, Bayer Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez, Gio’s brother Jonathan who plays for Villareal, Eintracht Frankfurt duo Marco Fabian and defender Carlos Salcedo, Porto defender Miguel Layun and the kingpin, Atlas defender Rafael Marquez, who is still up for the big occasion at the ripe old age of 38.

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3. Russia

As hosts of the FIFA World Cup, Stanislav Cherchesov’s Russia are also hosts of the FIFA Confederations Cup and while they may come into the group as dark horses, they have strong fan support and have the potential to deliver a shock result or two. Notable players include Zenit Saint Petersburg midfielder Yuri Zhirkov, CSKA Moscow midfielder Alan Dzagoev and Spartak Moscow defender Dmitri Kombarov. All of the players on this roster hail from the Russian Premier League with the exception of Fenerbahce defender Roman Neustadter.

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4. New Zealand

Not much is expected from Anthony Hudson’s New Zealand All Whites, as the main focus is to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (their Oceania playoff opponent will be known on June 9), but the experience of dancing with the likes of Mexico and Portugal will no doubt be useful. Notable players include Wellington Phoenix midfielder Michael McGlinchey, Melbourne Victory midfielder Marco Rojas, San Jose Earthquakes defender Kip Colvey, Wellington Phoenix defender Andrew Durante, Wellington Phoenix striker Kosta Barbarouses, Borneo forward Shane Smeltz and Newcastle Jets netminder Glem Moss. A majority of players on this list hail from the A-League.

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GROUP B

1. Germany

Joachim Low’s Germany are favored, if barely, to win Group B, and they have a list of all stars to do it. The defending World Cup champions feature goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona) and Kevin Trapp (Paris Saint-Germain) midfielder Julian Draxler (PSG), defender Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich), and forwards Sandro Wagner (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim) and Timo Werner (RB Leipzig). Most of these players come from the Bundesliga and a team of young up and comers have been chosen to represent Die Mannschaft for this tournament.

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2. Chile

Germany’s main opposition is Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Chile, and La Roja elected to bring in a veteran unit to issue the challenge to the World Cup defenders. Notable players include goalkeeper Claudio Bravo (Manchester City), defenders Mauricio Isla (Cagliari) and Gary Medel (Inter Milan), midfielders Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) and Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen), and forwards Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Eduardo Vargas (Tigres UANL).

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3. Cameroon

The Champions of Africa, Cameroon are a team built to provide surprises here and there. The Indomitable Lions, managed by Hugo Broos, have elected to go with youth and feature some notable players in midfielder Benjamin Moukandjo (FC Lorient), midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Olympique de Marseille), striker Vincent Aboubakar (Besiktas JK) and striker Karl Toko Ekambi (Angers SCO).

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4. Australia

Australia may not be as big an underdog in the tournament as New Zealand, but in this group, Ange Postcoglou’s Socceroos have their work cut out for them. They have a couple of game individuals in Aaron Mooy, who led Huddersfield Town to the Premier League, and Tom Rogic, who powered Celtic to a historic domestic treble. And of course, Tim Cahill of Melbourne City returns to lead the charges. Other key Socceroos to watch include Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng defender Ryan McGowan, Queens Park Rangers midfielder Massimo Luongo, Baniyas Club midfielder Mark Milligan, Hertha BSC forward Mather Leckiw and SV Darmstadt 98 striker Jamie Maclaren, formerly of Brisbane Roar.

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