Confederations Cup Day 2: Mexico-Italy and Spain-Uruguay

2013 FIFA Confederations Cup
Sunday, June 16, 2013
All Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Defending World Cup Champion Spain headlines a double header at the Confed Cup at they take on Uruguay. Mexico battles Italy in the other game today.
Defending World Cup Champion Spain headlines a double header at the Confed Cup at they take on Uruguay. Mexico battles Italy in the other game today.

After host Brazil opened the 2013 FIFA Confederations with a  resounding 3-0 win against Japan Saturday, Day 2 has two potentially great match-ups. Mexico and Italy kick off the double header, followed by Spain and Uruguay. Here is a brief look at both matches with odds courtesy of Bookmaker.

Mexico vs Italy
3:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Estadio do Maracana – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Betting Line: Italy Pick -135 / Mexico Pick +105
Total: over 2 -120 / under 2 -110
Three Way Line: Italy +115 / Mexico +190 / Draw +215

Both Mexico and Italy have struggled coming into the Confed Cup sending their passionate fanbases into panic mode. Both need a good showing here or there could be changes at the top. Mexico manager Jose Manuel de la Torre is especially on the hot seat as Mexico has struggled to score recently and has a had a spate of costly scoreless draws that have put El Tricolor in jeopardy of not qualifying for the World Cup next year. Italy manager Cesare Prandelli is safer than de la Torre as Italy has a pretty sizable cushion in their qualifying group. Still Azzuri fans are not happy right now.

Mexico has 3 scoreless draws in their last 5 games, including at home home against Costa Rica Tuesday night and in Panama City against Panama in CONCACAF qualifying. More alarming, is Mexico has 3 straight scoreless draws at Estadio Azteca against the US, Jamaica, and Costa Rica, where Mexico was previously almost invincible. Mexico finds themselves tied with Costa Rica for second two points behind the United States in CONCACAF. Mexico is only a point ahead of Honduras and 2 ahead of Panama. Only the top 3 are guaranteed a spot in the World Cup and the fourth place finisher will play New Zealand for a spot. Mexico has played one more game than the rest of their rivals.

Italy leads their qualifying group by 4 points over Bulgaria, and the Italians have 2 wins and 3 draws in their last 5 matches. However, the two wins came over lowly Malta and San Marino. Italy does have a 2-2 draw against Brazil in that stretch. The results that have Azzuri fans wringing their hands are the last two matches. Italy played the Czech Republic to a listless, lackluster scoreless draw in Prague June 8. Four days later, Italy played a terrible Haiti team in San Januario, Brazil. The Italians took a 2-0 lead and then took their foot off the gas as Haiti came back to earn a 2-2 draw. Granted, Italy rested some key starters and were probably jet lagged from the long trip from Europe to South America. Still it wasn’t a good result against a team ranked #63 in the latest FIFA rankings.

Mexico and Italy have only played each other 5 times in the last 20 years, the last meeting in 2010. Mexico leads the series that period 2-0-2, including 2-1 in the 2010 match.

Mexico will use a 4-4-2 attack, led by dynamic striker Javier 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.

Italy will use a 4-3-1-2 attack, but will be without striker Mario Balotelli who is out with a thigh injury. Stephan El Shaarawy missed practice with a muscle strain but is expected to play. Keeper Gianluigi Buffon is a top netminder.

I don’t expect a lot of scoring in this match, and I think a draw is likely either 1-1 or 0-0.

Spain vs Uruguay
5:45 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN
Arena Pernambuco – Recife, Brazil
Betting Line: Spain -1 +110 / Uruguay +1 -140
Total: Over 2 1/2 Even / Under 2 1/2 -130
Three Way Line: Spain -200 / Uruguay +500 / Draw +265

Spain is the defending Euro and World Cup Champions. They take on Uruguay who advanced to the semifinals of the World Cup in 2010 and won the 2011 Copa America to qualify for this tournament.

Spain is unbeaten in their last 22 games under manager Vicente Del Bosque. Spain beat Haiti and Ireland in friendlies this week. Spain leads their qualifying group by a single point over France.

Uruguay is struggling in CONMEBOL qualifying under manager Oscar Tabarez. The Celeste are tied with Venezuela for fifth. Only the top 4 are guaranteed a spot in the World Cup and the fifth place finisher will play a team from Asia  for a spot in the Cup. Uruguay has struggled on defense allowing 21 goals in WC qualifying games. Uruguay has gone 2-2-1 in their last 5 games, but they did earn a much needed 3 points with a 1-0 win at Venezuela this week. It was their first win in a competitive match in 7 tries.

Spain has never lost to Uruguay in 9 previous meetings. Spain has won 3 of the last 4 against Uruguay, including a 3-1 win in February in a friendly.

Spain uses a 4-3-3 attack but will be without Xabi Alonso for the tournament and Xavi is doubtful. Still, La Roja is loaded with names such as Javi Martinez, Cesc Fabregas, David Villa, Pedro and Fernando Torres. Goalkeeper Iker Casillas returns from and injury that kept him on the shelf for over four months.

Uruguay will use a 4-4-2 attack led by striker Luis Suarez. Edinson Cavani and Diego Forlan are also talented. Like most of the defense, keeper Fernando Muslera has struggled recently but he does have potential.

Spain should roll in this game despite being shorthanded. I think Spain wins by a similar 3-1 score like they did in the friendly in February.

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