Confederations Cup: Brazil-Mexico and Italy-Japan

2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
Wednesday, June 18, 2013

All Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Italy takes on Japan and Brazil takes on Mexico in Group A action Wednesday in the FIFA Confederations Cup

Italy takes on Japan and Brazil takes on Mexico in Group A action Wednesday in the FIFA Confederations Cup

In Group A of the FIFA Confederations Cup, tournament host Brazil and Italy earned wins over Japan and Mexico respectively. Now, Japan and Mexico must at least earn a point to stay alive for a chance to go to the semifinals. Brazil will take on Mexico in game one and Japan will take on Italy in the second game. Here is a look at both games with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.

Brazil vs Mexico
3:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Estadio Castelao – Fortaleza, Brazil
Betting Line: Brazil -1 1/2 Even / Mexico +1 1/2 -130
Total: Under 3 -140 / Over 3 +110
Three Way Line: Mexico +650 / Brazil -317 / Draw +350

Brazil hadn’t played a competitive match in almost 2 years before their Confed Cup opener against Asian Champ Japan. Brazil has already qualified for the 2014 World Cup as the host. Brazil went with a younger line-up and did not include such legends as Kaka and Ronaldinho on the roster. Many questioned whether the team could score consistently after some lackluster recent performances.

Brazil would answer those questions in a big way against a team many thought could be a dark horse to win this tournament. Brilliant young striker Neymar would score 3 minutes into the game to give Brazil the early 1-0 lead. However, Japan hung around and would not allow another goal before halftime. Brazil missed several good chances to add to the lead. Japan almost conceded an own goal but keeper Eiji Kawashima made a brilliant save.

In the second, Brazil again scored early in the half on a goal from Paulinho, that Kawashima got fingertips on but was unable to stop. Japan almost got back in the game a few minutes later but Shinji Okazaki missed wide of the net. In the 69th minute Neymar injured his back and was carried off on a stretcher. He would return but was soon removed from the game as he clutched his back. He is listed as probable for Wednesday’s game. Jo would add another goal late in stoppage time to pad the goal differential.

Brazil had 13 shots, with 4 on target. Japan did try to attack with 11 shots , and 5 on goal. Brazil had 5 corners to Japan’s 0, and the Selecao held the ball for 63% of the time. It wasn’t perfect performance by any means, but Brazil did get the 3 points.

Mexico had some chances against Italy. Mexico’s Andres Guardado hit the crossbar in the 11th minute. Italy’s Andrea Pirlo scored on a free kick in the 27th minute. It was his 100th appearance with the national team. Mexico tied it up 7 minutes later on a penalty kick from Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez, after Andrea Barzagli tripped Giovani dos Santos in the penalty area.

Neither team would score again until Mario Balotelli scored as he slid on the grass in the 78th minute. He got a yellow card for removing his jersey in the celebration, and probably should have gotten another earlier for kicking his shoe across the penalty area after being frustrated by Mexico’s defense. Balotelli was supposed to miss the game with a thigh injury according to some reports. Italy would hold on for the 2-1 win. Teh loss was the first of the year for Mexico, but they have had a lot of scoreless draws recently.

The Azzuri had 16 shots including 6 on goal. Mexico had 10 shots with 3 on goal. Italy had 4 corners and Mexico had 3. Italy held possession for 59% of the game.

 

Mexico has 7 wins against Brazil in the last 12 matches between the teams, including a 2-1 win in the gold medal match of the London Olympics. Mexico also won a friendly in Arlington, Texas last August in the last meeting between the squads. Mexico has won 2 of the 3 meetings in Confederations Cup competition.

Mexico manager Jose Manuel de la Torre could be in trouble if Mexico doesn’t have a good performance in this tournament. Brazil is coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Mexico will use a 4-2-3-1 attack, led by dynamic striker Hernandez. Oribe Peralta who scored 4 goals last summer as Mexico won the Olympic gold medal in London will miss this game with a thigh injury. Goalkeeper Jesus Corona has been incredible recently and is the main reason Mexico has the points they have in qualifying.

Scolari will use a 4-2-3-1 formation. Hulk, Oscar, Neymar and Fred can all score at anytime if they get space. Jo could start in place of Fred. Look for crowd favorite  Lucas to come off the bench if Brazil needs a spark. Goalkeeper Julio Cesar is one of the top netminders in the world and kept a clean sheet against Japan.

Mexico has struggled to score recently and Brazil will look to avenge the loss in the Gold medal match in London last year. A Brazil win would secure a spot in the semifinals for the Selecao, and eliminate Mexico. I think a win is a little too much to ask for Mexico in Brazil, but they might be able to steal a point for a draw.

Japan vs Italy
5:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Arena Pernambuco – Recife, Brazil
Betting Line: Italy -1 +150 / Japan +1 -190
Total: under 2 1/2 -155 / over 2 1/2 +125
Three Way Line: Japan +365 / Italy -145 / Draw +240

Like Brazil, Italy can clinch a spot in the second round with a win. Japan needs to earn a point at least to stay alive. This is only the second ever meeting between Italy and Japan and the first since a 1-1 draw in 2001. Italy hasn’t lost since November 2012. Japan has already clinched a spot in the World Cup for winning their group in Asia.

Italy manager Cesare Prandelli who is normally mild mannered lit into his team after some lackluster efforts in friendlies and World Cup qualifyers. Japan manager Alberto Zaccheroni takes on the nation of his birth. The former AC Milan coach was not happy with the effort nor the result against Brazil Saturday.

Italy will use a 4-3-1-2 attack. Stephan El Shaarawy missed the game against Mexico with a muscle strain but is expected to return against Japan. Keeper Gianluigi Buffon is a top netminder, but the 36 year old is getting a bit long in the tooth. He is the only player from either roster that played in the 2001 meeting.

The Samurai Blue will use a  4-2-3-1 formation. Keeper Eiji Kawashima has struggled recently but has potential. Japan is led by the dynamic du0 of midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda. Zaccheroni might insert Ryoichi Maeda up front and push Stuttgart’s Shinji Okazaki out wide.

I don’t see Japan with the win, but like Mexico they have a good chance at the draw and a point. However, if Italy plays up to their potential, they could win going away.

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