Confederations Cup Diary - More Of The Same, Please

19 June 2013 02:27
Well, what do you think of the show so far? The first four games of the Confederations Cup have been very easy on the eye and, ever the optimist, I'm confident the teams will maintain the standard for the rest of the tournament.    Tonight's games - Brazil v Mexico and Italy v Japan - will have me parked in front to the box, a few cans at hand, expecting to see the host nation and the Italians build on their opening day victories.   As always, I'm ready to salivate over anything the Brazilians have to offer but it would be wrong to assume the Mexicans will just roll over meekly.  History certainly suggests otherwise.  This will be their fourth Confederations Cup meeting and Mexico lead by two victories to one, losing 3-2 in a group game in Saudi Arabia in 1997 but winning 4-3 in the final as hosts two years later and also beating Brazil 1-0 in Hanover at the group stage of the 2003 tournament.   But it is hard to see anything other than a home win at Fortaleza's Estadio Castelao tonight.  Brazil swept Japan aside at the weekend without ever hitting top gear and all the signs are there that this team is perfectly capable of winning this competition and being serious contenders for next year's World Cup.  Of course, there are question marks against the likes of David Luiz at the back and he will have to be on his toes facing Man Utd's Javier Hernandez but I fancy all the action to be at the other end of the field.   Neymar got the competition off to a flying start with a superb strike inside three minutes on Saturday and, although Hulk has the ability to frustrate team-mates and opponents alike, Luiz Felipe Scolari is happy to go with the Fred-Neymar-Hulk front line, with Jo ready to do what he did against Japan and make an impact from the bench.   Mexico realistically needed to get something from their game against Italy to approach this game with genuine hope of qualifying for the semi-finals.  I fancy they'll play it tight, hope to frustrate the Brazilians and their expectant fans, then look to Chicarito to do a bit of damage on the break.  This is where David Luiz's defensive qualities will be tested.  I expect him to pass with flying colours.   Having been comprehensively turned over by Brazil, Japan have to pick up the pieces against Italy in Recife but did little at the weekend to suggest they can upset Cesare Prandelli's side.  Having already booked their passage to the World Cup Finals, the Japs need to spend the next year moulding a unit which can compete at the top level and, while they have a number of very useful individuals, coach Alberto Zaccheroni has a lot of team-building work to do.   Mario Balotelli and Andrea Pirlo were the stars of Italy's 2-1 win over Mexico and they are sure to be prominent again tonight.  Of course, Balotelli is never more than one bad tackle away from eruption but he looked to be a more composed individual on Saturday, although I've no doubt opposing defenders will set out to test his powers of restraint.  Maybe if somebody noises him up too much, Pirlo will give him a shot at a free-kick or two.   I wonder what the big fella thought when he saw television coverage of the protests currently sweeping Brazil.  The high cost of living and poor wages have brought thousands on to the streets but a heavy police presence will make sure the TV screen is as close as any of the Confederations Cup squads get to the turmoil.  Which is probably just as well because mental Mario is just the sort of character you could envisage heaving a paving slab through a shop window.allegedly.   Never mind, I'm in the mood for the fitba, the laptop will be shut down and the phone off the hook as eight o'clock approaches and I settle down for tonight's action.  Read all about here tomorrow, eh Leggo?   LITTLE BOY BLUE