The Confederations Cup is a waste of time
After an exhausting 59 games, Xavi, the man of the match during last month’s European Champions League final, would be forgiven for needing a couple of months break from football.
It has been a fantastic 2008-09 for the tireless Spanish central midfielder. It all started in June 2008, when he helped Spain to an historic Euro 2008 title. Only 10 months later he had a La Liga, a Copa del Rey and a Champions League medal to add to his collection.
Yet instead of relaxing for a couple of months, preparing to defend his club titles and the dawning of World Cup 2010 on the horizon, Xavi is being exposed to the heat of Southern Africa.
The Confederation’s Cup is a truly pointless competition. It involves the champion’s of each continent, as well as the World Cup holders and the next World Cup hosts. In theory the tournament should provide fans with some great games.
In reality this is simply not the case. The South American champions, European champions and World Cup holders regularly plough through the weaker opposition from Oceania and Asia.
A prime example: Spain versus New Zealand. Less than 17 minutes into the game, Liverpool ace, Fernando Torres had grabbed himself a hat trick and Villa promptly added another before half time. A tame second half followed, with the match ending 5-0 to Spain as they demolished the Kiwi’s.
It highlighted the problem of the tournament. The Confederations Cup is effectively a glorified friendly tournament. It has as much appeal as watching the Emirates Cup every August. Sure, it’s great to see some of football’s global stars but at the end of a tired season, they are far from firing on all cylinders.
In some cases, weakened squads participate, as countries prefer to focus on the World Cup finals a year later. It is also a chance for the host country to do a dress rehearsal, insuring all the necessary requirements are ready, on and off the pitch.
It is also an opportunity for the minnows of the competition to come up against the World’s best teams like Brazil, Spain and Italy. There are the occasional upsets, but the big teams normally overcome the smaller nations with unerring ease.
So as Xavi, Iniesta et al will be running up and down a hard South African pitch sweating in the searing heat, John Terry and his team mates will be resting up. It can surely only be a benefit for the English and Irish squads as many of the World’s top players run themselves into the ground at the Confederations Cup.
Come June 2010, let’s hope the Brazilians, Italians and Spanish will be suffering from a bout of fatigue after a shortened summer break in 2009 and a gruelling fixture list in 2009/10.
And if that doesn’t appease fans, at least a helping of summer football beats beach rugby on Eurosport, even if the games are played generally at a canter.