In less than a week, the world will get its first glimpse of what the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia will look like as the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup kicks off in Moscow on Saturday. Champions from each confederation, host nation Russia, and 2014 World Champions Germany, will battle for a chance at the second highest honor in world football. Both groups show some very promising matchups. Today, I take a look at Group A and see how each team stacks up against one another and also give you my prediction for the group standings.

Coming Soon: Group B plus Knockout Rounds predictions

Group A:


The host nation hasn’t given their fans much to celebrate as of late.

The Russians have struggled under new head coach Stanislav Cherchesov, who took over the squad in August 2016. They’ve won only two out of seven games since his addition, with embarrassing losses at home against Costa Rica (3-4) and away at Qatar (1-2). The Sbornaya do boast several new young players in a squad completely made up of local league talent, but that won’t be enough to beat the likes of Germany, Mexico, or Chile.

Players to watch: Russian fans will hope to see star player Artem Dzyuba in the tournament, after going down with knee problems on June 3, according to transfermarkt. If Dzyuba ends up not playing, the team will rely on FC Krasnodar forward Fyodor Smolov, who was the Russian League’s top scorer last season with 18 goals.

New Zealand

New Zealand come into this tournament representing the Oceanic Football Confederation after beating Papua New Guinea in penalties for the OFC Nations Cup on June 11, 2016. Even though the Kiwis are the clear underdogs in the whole tournament, Coach Anthony Hudson believes in his squad’s abilities. “It is the best squad we have had since I have been here,” Hudson told

“The best thing about this squad is we have a good blend of experience and youth. There is energy, quality, and hunger in this squad so I’m very pleased.” Unfortunately for the All-Whites, there is no way they can make it out of group A with the competition they have got and I can’t see them winning a single game.

Players to watch: Veteran striker Shane Smeltz returned to the national team and it will be interesting to see how he and other older players play with New Zealand’s next generation of talent such as Marco Rojas and Ryan Thomas, against quality opponents.


El Tri comes to Russia by defeating fierce rivals the United States in the first-ever CONCACAF Cup in 2015. Mexico is the only team in this year’s edition to have won the tournament before, beating a Ronaldinho-led Brazilian side in 1999. Head coach Juan Carlos Osorio has been heavily criticized since his hiring, but Mexico has only lost two games since his arrival. They have a very talented squad, especially on the attacking side, and have shown their offensive power in recent games with Ireland and Honduras. However, Mexico has its flaws and at times struggles to score more than a goal in a win and will definitely need to step up their scoring if they want to win this tournament.

Players to watch: Javier Chicharito Hernandez recently became El Tri’s top goal scorer of all time with 47 goals, so expect him to be looking to further distance himself from the rest in every game.

Real Sociedad winger Carlos Vela has also been playing great for the national team as of late, and look for newcomers Hirving Lozano and Oswaldo Alanis who want to prove themselves in the spotlight.


Coming off an unexpected but impressive Euro 2016 championship win, Portugal are back in a big tournament and are the clear favorites to make it to the final. Portugal hasn’t really faced an opponent at their level since the Euros. They have suffered some shock defeats to Switzerland (0-2) and Sweden (2-3), but still have the talent to back up a possible final and even a championship run. Cristiano Ronaldo and company will look to cruise by this group and face tougher competition in Germany or Chile.

Players to watch: The aforementioned Ronaldo is in the best time of career as he has won two Champions Leagues, a Euro, a Spanish League and a Ballon d’Or in the past year alone. Look for him to want to add a Confederations Cup to his career resume. Also keep an eye on Bernardo and Andre Silva, who were summer signings for Manchester City and AC Milan respectively, as they make their first tournament appearances for A Seleção.

Group Standing Predictions:

Team Wins Draws Losses Points

Portugal 3 0 0 9

Mexico 1 1 1 4

Russia 0 2 0 2

New Zealand 0 1 0 1