Only two more games remain in the Confederations Cup, the final and a more than purely academic third place match. Mexico got walloped by Germany and Portugal collapsed in penalties to Germany to slide into the 5am kickoff.
If you feel like waking up early for the Mexico-Portugal match, well then good for you. Hopefully you are up for more than just this game which has no Cristiano Ronaldo, who left to meet his new twins. I wouldn’t be surprised if other stars, like Chicharito, take the match off after the muscle fatigue he had going into the semi-final. Both teams had their heads down at the end of their last match but the winner gets an extra half-a-million dollars (going from $3m to $3.5m).
Where to watch: FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream
Confederations Cup Final
The match everyone cares about, 11am in Saint Petersburg. A fight between the two best teams in the tournament, Chile and Germany. Some finals at least one of the teams seemed to luck into getting there and while Chile never dominated Portugal and had to take it on PKs, both teams have been clearly the better side for almost every minute of the tournament. When they played each other in the group stage, it ended 1-1 and was less exciting than it was billed. It should produce a more exciting match in the final, pitting two different styles that likely leads to Germany frustrated after putting together attack after attack against a great Chilean defense.
Most casual observers will see the Mexico scoreline and assume the Germans will run roughshod over their South American opponent. It’s hard to fault anyone for thinking that after putting up four on a Mexican side. Yes they were missing Reyes and Guardado and it showed, but Germany was still out-possessed (58-42) and out-shot (25-12) by the Mexican side.
The German attack tried to use both Lars Stindl and Timo Werner, something they probably didn’t try against Chile the first time. With the strength of Chile being up the spine, it’ll push the German attack wide with the wing backs and whoever start underneath the striker (likely two of the three Stindl, Goretzka, or Draxler). Germany only found one goal from nine shots. They only got three on target at that.
In every other match of the tournament, the German attack has been flying it was against Chile it stalled. The defense had one of its better performances when they played in the group stage thanks to the Chilean offense being average when Alexis Sanchez is not creating a moment of brilliance. Chile’s attack is not any better than Mexico’s, arguably, but if the Germans lose focus it’ll be a long night chasing Alexis Sanchez.
Players to Watch
Leon Goretzka, it’s unclear will he play as a CM or a CAM/CF against Chile. He played as a CF when they played the first time but all three of his goals have come when playing in the next line of midfield. He likely stays where he was against Mexico and will have to battle with Chile’s three-man CMs. If Goretzka can create some turnovers and make the late runs, he’ll find another goal.
Sebastian Rudy, the midfielder has started every match and played nearly every minute. Chile’s midfield is physical and creates havoc. He’ll be in the middle of the boxing ring with them and he’ll either step up or crumble. If he can step up and stop Diaz and Aranguiz from dominating the midfielder he’ll have done enough to win the match for Germany likely.
The defense for Chile has been its mainstay in this tournament. They entered the semis with the best defense in the tournament and held to it giving up nothing to the second best offense of the tournament, Portugal. In 210 minutes of soccer against Germany and Portugal, who combined 14 group stage goals, they’ve given up one. The CBs and CMs are physical and can win a tackle against anyone. With Arturo Vidal playing as a false nine, it adds one more layer of physicality to teams as they try to play through the midfield. Chile will win by frustrating Germany as they did in the first match and getting Alexis Sanchez in space. Likely Chile can only steal a goal against the Germans, unless there is a large collapse in focus. If they can hold them the vaunted German attack to a goal at most, they can win the Cup. If they can’t, they’ll say goodbye to winning the tournament.
Player to Watch
Alexis Sanchez, how can I pick anyone else? He is the most talented player on the field and with even the smallest modicum of space, he can make magic happen. If there is someone who can break down the German backline and create for others, it’ll be Sanchez who scored in the first meeting just six minutes in.
Martin Rodriguez, the forward/winger has subbed on in almost every match for Chile. He’s been dynamic and adds another dimension to the attack which he showed when he grabbed the winning goal against Australia. When Rodriguez subs on at about the 60th minute (most likely), the German backline has probably been beaten and bruised by Arturo Vidal, Eduardo Vargas and co. allowing him to add fresh legs and a little change of pace. If Rodriguez can capitalize on that and find a late goal, he might be the hero Chile was asking for.
Where to watch: FS1, Telemundo, Telemundo Stream