The Fifa Confederations Cup is currently underway in Russia and sees the champions from each confederation battling it out in an eight team tournament. With powerhouses like 2014 World Cup champions Germany, and hosts Russia looking to make a strong showing in front of the hometown crowd, this warm-up to the big prize in 2018 is sure to whet your appetite.
The final will be held on July 2. Here are five reasons why Portugal, the 2016 European Championships winners, will lift this year’s tournament trophy:
Cristiano Ronaldo is currently 32 years old and continues to be the talisman for both his club Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team. Ronaldo scored over 40 goals for Real Madrid this season and won both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League with the Spanish giants. He will be looking to put a disappointing first game - a 2-2 draw against Mexico - behind him and get back on track to winning this year’s tournament.
Portugal’s solid defence was one of the key reasons why they were able to win the European Championships last summer, defeating the goal-friendly France and Croatia along the way. It will be important for the back line of Pepe, Jose Fonte, and Raphael Guerreiro to remain in top form if they want to be successful at the tournament. A leaky defence will get you nowhere at this level.
Portugal’s best player might be Cristiano Ronaldo, but he definitely isn’t their only weapon. Nani, Andre Gomes and Bernardo Silva all need to show their class and assist Ronaldo during the moments of uncertainty. Football is a team sport and it will be impossible for Ronaldo to single-handedly win them the tournament.
With pre-tournament favorites Germany deciding to rest some of their key players in preparation for the FIFA World Cup next year, there seems to be a lack of real competition for Portugal in this tournament. However, they will still have to play at their very best, with talented teams such as Chile and Mexico looking to steal the spotlight.
Portugal’s coach, Fernando Santos, could also be the key to Portugal's chances in the Confederations Cup. His defensive style of play was instrumental in winning the European Championships last summer, and his creative use of Portugal’s key players - such as playing Ronaldo up front - will make the entire team more effective.