The Confederations Cup kicks off Saturday and for American sports fans heading into a summer doldrums as hockey and hoops near respective ends, it’s an opportune moment to get excited about an athlete whose name doesn’t rhyme with Jim Jebow.
The stakes in clear terms:
Eight reigning continental champs you’ve seen Sportscenter highlights of in recent years will split up into two groups of four, do it Round Robin-style, and then we get semi-finals and a title game. Six Brazilian cities will host.
This thing used to be called the King Fahd Cup when Saudi Arabia started the tournament in 1992. After the ’95 tourney, FIFA saw programming potential and quietly put an end to the Saudis’ automatic berth; they eventually spun the gala into an official World Cup dry run. Henceforth, the re-branded Confederations Cup would play out in the upcoming host nation’s refurbished stadiums. Is Brazil’s 78,000 capacity Maracana stadium up to code? Will the better but different “Cafusa” ball from Adidas cause rampant complaints? Will the goal-line technology lead to a reduction of international incidents? How will fans cope with the recent banning of vuvuzelas?
More importantly, who is going to win, breakout, and squander?
You’re about to find out, with the Confederations Cup power rankings.