Confederations Cup: Tournament preview

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With the 2014 FIFA World Cup fast approaching in just one year, next year's hosts and current Confederations Cup holders Brazil will be looking to show off their hosting skills as well as defend their title. 

The group stage begins with Group A being more difficult to predict featuring Brazil, Mexico, Japan and Italy. Group B should be more straightforward with Spain, Uruguay, Tahiti and Nigeria. 

Brazil will be facing a strong attack on their quest to retain the Championship from teams like fellow South Americans Uruguay, reigning European and World Champions Spain, Mexico and Italy. 

Japan Nigeria, and Tahiti will also no doubt be hoping to cause a few surprises themselves and we all know that in Football, a smaller team's bite can be more dangerous than a bigger team's bark.

No team should ever be underestimated in the beautiful game. An interesting team to look at possibly causing a problem for the big boys is Japan. They have already qualified for the World Cup, absolutely soaring through the final group stages in Asia with five wins, two draws and just one loss with a total of 16 goals.

The favourites for many will surely be Spain having won the previous two consecutive major tournaments - 2010 World Cup and 2012 European Championships. 

Spain boast quite possibly the best players in the world in almost every position with the quality of Iker Casillas in goal, the scoring ability of David Villa and of course the brilliance of the midfield in Xavi, Andres Iniesta Xabi Alonso and the always improving Juan Mata. 

Let's not forget defenders like Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, and Carles Puyol. As usual it will also be interesting to see how Fernando Torres contributes as he tries to earn himself more playing time.  

Uruguay who although could be doing better in their World Cup qualifiers are always a team to watch out for, with fantastic talents themselves in attackers Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez. The sensational Diego Forlan is also there in attack and he can also cause serious problems. 

Brazil have a lot of young talent throughout their squad. Neymar will be looking to continue showing Barcelona fans why they made a good choice when they signed him. 

Midfielders Fernando, Hernanes, Luis Gustavo and Paulinho in the middle will definitely be eye catching. Excellence in defence with David Luiz, Thiago Silva, Dante and Dani Alves will make it difficult for any level of attack.

What about the always interesting and dangerous Euro 2012 runners up Italy? Mario Balotelli is always in the headlines, but since his move to AC Milan it has mostly been for footballing reasons. 

He will have quality up front with him in players like El Sharrawy, Giovinco and Gillardino. The Italian midfield has always been brilliant this time featuring Danielle De Rossi, Montolivo, Marchisio and who could forget the incredibly majestic Andrea Pirlo. 

In goals they have the quite often-unbeatable Gianluigi Buffon who is also one of the world's best when it comes to quality goalkeeping.

Some may not consider the Confederations Cup much, it has been considered a tournament that teams should not take seriously, it is a warm up after all but it does still promise some great excitement for football fans everywhere. 

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