What did we learn after the first round of games in the Confederations Cup? Though you should always be careful not to take much away from a single game by a team, we didn’t see much that we haven’t seen before.
1. Spain are still the best team in the world. Top to bottom, back to front, the Spanish have the most complete and most successful team of the last two years. From Iker Casillas on goal to Fernando Torres and David Villa up front, past a stellar midfield with amazing depth (Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas, Xabi Alonso, Santi Cazorla, David Silva … wow) and a solid defence, this team seems unstoppable at the moment. Then again, beating New Zealand 5-0 isn’t a testament to anyone’s strength right now.
2. Brazil are soft at the back and lose their composure too easily. Kaká is, if not the best player on the planet, at least in the top 3. Without him, Brazil does not win this game. It took a last minute penalty for the Egyptians to lose, all because the Brazilians figured they’d cruise after ending the first half up 3-1. If there’s one guy you would figure would instill mental strength in the side, it would be Dunga. Let’s see if he’s still there by the time the World Cup rolls around. I can’t see this team beating Spain.
3. The USA should’ve done everything possible to get Giuseppe Rossi playing for them. At the very least, it would saved them from receiving two goals this week. Rossi was born in Teaneck, New Jersey, of Italian parents. At 18, he chose to play for Italy’s U-21s over the US and soon made it to Italy’s senior team. His goalscoring reminded me of a certain other Rossi, name of Paolo, who roamed opposition goals for Italy more than two decades ago. I don’t see him staying at Villareal in Spain for too long.
4. South Africa may be one of the poorest hosts of the World Cup in terms of football. No host has ever failed to progress past the first round. This team may accomplish that, depending on who they get grouped with. Even worse than the USA ’94 squad.
5. There’s no way New Zealand is winning their playoff against Asia’s 5th-placed team. I really hope I’m wrong about this one, but Iraq isn’t even in the frame for a playoff spot in Asia. It’s likely to be Iran, Saudi Arabia or North Korea. All three of those have had better qualification matches than Iraq and right now, I’d back Iraq to defeat New Zealand in their Confederations Cup match. That match will tell us more than anything whether the All Whites can get to the finals in 2010. It is an absolute must-win for them.