Aside from an on-pitch brawl involving Mexico and New Zealand players, it’s been a disappointingly non-violent Confederations Cup. Perhaps the absence of England fans contributed to an unfortunate lack of physical conflagrations on Russian streets, but you might have expected more effort on the part of the locals to live up to their reputation. Here’s hoping that they can up their game when the World Cup rolls around in 2018.
On the football side of things, it has actually been a pretty entertaining tournament.
New Zealand turned out to be slightly less pointless than foreseen – yet still finished the group stage, er, pointless – and Cameroon were dire, but the remaining six teams all played their part.
Portugal failed to live up to our expectations, but will still battle with Mexico for the dubious honour of third place. It’s all but impossible for teams to raise themselves for these playoff matches, and we expect a dull one that might come down to a shootout. Try your hand at a Draw in 90 minutes at 21/10, or Draw/Draw in the Half-time/Full-time market at 9/2.
Pre-tournament, we mentioned that Chile might just be the best-value outright bet (then at 23/10, now at Evens to Lift the Cup), and their presence in the final would seem to justify that assertion. They now come face to face with a Germany side who have belied their status as the nation’s supposed “C” team with some exciting counter-attacking football.
The Germans start the final as favourites – as they usually do – but boast little in the way of international experience in comparison to Chile. Juan Antonio Pizzi’s side have four players with more than 100 international caps, but the most-capped German is Julian Draxler with 30. Alexis Sanchez, meanwhile, has more than twice as many international goals as the entire German squad combined.
For that reason, we’re backing the older heads to reign supreme in Russia. The Chileans look highly motivated, and clearly want to win the tournament, while despite their good form the Germans have treated it throughout as a glorified training exercise.
In a final, that motivation can make all the difference, and no-one personifies it more than La Roja’s Skill-Pixie-in-Chief, Sanchez.
The Arsenal forward backtracks as willingly as a Conservative prime minister, and never gives less than 100%, even if means getting dirty. He steps up to the mark when it comes to the big occasion, and will do everything he can to get on the scoresheet on Sunday.
For that reason, we’re backing Alexis to score anytime and Chile to win in 90 minutes at 9/2.
*All prices correct at time of posting