Only a handful of matches have been played in this year’s Confederations cup, but we have already been spoilt rotten. We have been treated to some excellent displays of skill from Brazil’s rising star, some inspiring team performances and more importantly a glimpse at the sort of atmosphere we can all expect at the World Cup next year. I am writing this after staying up late watching Japan and Italy in an absolute thriller that ended 4-3 to the Azzurri.
Although slightly weary from the lack of sleep, I cannot stop thinking about how excellent Japan were during most of the match. Not only did they show excellent team spirit and the ability to keep possession, but their refreshing honesty regarding fouls and diving was just a part of their overall commendable attitude. Yes they did lose, but they can take solace in the performance and if they improve again as they did between group games, then they can go to next year’s tournament with a real chance to get to the knock-out stages. Or perhaps even further.
Not only has this tournament dispelled fears that the teams involved would treat it as a run of glorified friendlies, but it has also been the first opportunity to showcase goal line technology, albeit it has been unnecessary so far. But this just highlights the unobtrusiveness of its introduction in the first place and begs the question: “What was all the fuss about?”. There has of course been one more shining light during the 2013 Confederations cup so far, and that is Brazil’s most recent rising star, Neymar Jr. This tournament was the chance for the world to see what Barcelona paid such large amounts of money for, and he has not disappointed. A great goal and some sublime skill to set up the second against Mexico, describes just part of his performance. This also dispels those claims that he was overrated after an ineffective performance against England. If you factor in the classy performance from Spain in their opening game, it could really be effectively argued how utterly uninformative the good recent results against the two aforementioned teams were for England.
This leads on nicely to my last point regarding this tournament. Don’t worry, I am not going to digress into an argument about England. The bloggesphere has already done a good enough job for me. It is also a minefield of debate. Ranging from tactics and formations to grass roots and coaching. All I will say is that the performances of Japan and company should be a lesson to the England team in how the simple things such as a consistent team spirit, hard work and ambition can be much more telling in a result than a formation change. I only say this because when there are those five or ten minute spells when England players remember how to play (and some of them can, I am positive of that), I see glimpses of what is possible. Who knows, perhaps in four years we will all be talking about a good Confederations Cup performance from England. Although I seriously doubt it.