Uruguay is getting set to play in the Confederations Cup, and Jobu’s going to cover the action.
For those of you who haven’t been following international fútbol, the Confederations Cup has begun down in Brazil, and Uruguay is trying its best to put on a show for the international community. While things didn’t start out so hot for the boys in blue, I still feel pretty good about the tournament, so we’ll have to see. In this post, I’ll be introducing you to the Confederations Cup and also discussing La Celeste’s 2-1 loss to Spain in the opening game of the group stage. It was a tough one.
What Is the Confederations Cup?
Like the World Cup, the Confederations Cup is also held every four years. The two tournaments have also shared a host nation since 2005, but they’re played one year apart. The year before the World Cup, the conference champions from around the world (UEFA, CONMEBOL, CONCACAF, CAF, AFC and OFC), the current World Cup Champion and the World Cup host nation all get together for a mini tournament. If any of the teams meet more than one criteria, another team is invited to join the tourney. It’s a good way to rev up for the World Cup, almost acting like a dry run for the festivities that happen the following year. Uruguay was invited to this tournament because they won the last Copa America (their record 15th) to become the champions of the CONMEBOL.The other teams participating this year are Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Japan, Nigeria, Spain and Tahiti.
The tournament works pretty much like every other soccer tournament in the world. The eight teams are split up into two groups, Group A and Group B, and each group member plays the other in the opening round. The top two teams, based on points (three for a win, one for a tie) and, if need be, goal differentials and other tie breakers, move on to the semis.
Now it’s time for a little history lesson. The Confederations Cup was originally held in Saudi Arabia, and was known as the King Fahd Cup. FIFA took it over in 1997 (because that’s what they do) and began holding it every two years, until it was changed to the current format in 2005. There were actually some predecessors to the tournament, like the Mundialito in Uruguay in 1980, which was a tournament held between the the previous World Cup champions (except for England, who refused to go) as a way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first World Cup (won by Uruguay), and the Artemio Franchi Trophy, which was held in 1985 and 1993. Not all confederations always participated in these, but they could be considered the stepping stones that led to the current tourney.
Counting the King Fahd Cups, there have been eight previous Confederations Cup tournaments, with this year’s being the ninth. Brazil, this year’s host, has won three tournaments overall (1997, 2005, 2009), which is good for most in the world. France has two wins (2001, 2003), and Mexico (1999), Argentina (1992) and Denmark (1994) make up the rest. Uruguay’s best finish, in case you’re wondering, is fourth in 1997. The United States, meanwhile, finished second in 2009 and third in 1992 and 1999.
Kickoff: Uruguay vs Spain
Uruguay drew probably the best team in the world as their opponent in the first game of the tournament, which is unfortunate. Predictably, the amazing Spanish squad bested our guys 2-1. I was on vacation celebrating my three-year anniversary with the lady, but I did manage to stumble upon the beginning of this game before our big romantic dinner in Provincetown (Victor’s Restaurant… tremendous). I left for dinner shortly after Diego Lugano deflected a ball from Pedro into his own net in the 20th to put Spain up 1-0 (it wasn’t not as bad as it sounds, but it was really annoying).
Roberto Solado notched the second Spanish goal at 32 minutes when he was basically left wide open just outside the box. There wasn’t much Uruguayan keeper Fernando Muslera could do about that one. After that, Uruguay held firm, managing to keep Spain out of the net for the last 60 or so minutes of the match. Luis Suárez added what will surely be one of the better goals of the entire tournament on a free kick in the 88th minute to pull Uruguay within one, but the game was pretty much over. It wasn’t an ideal start for our boys, but let’s see how they do tonight against Nigeria, who is coming off a 6-1 win against Tahiti.
Until then… Watch some highlights.
Featured image courtesy of: Eurosport
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