2017 FIFA Confed. Cup: Strength, weaknesses of Germany, Chile at play in final match (Preview by Vincent Obi, PANA Editor)

Saint Petersburg, Russia (PANA) - World Champions, Germany, face Chile, the 2015 Copa América winners, on Sunday at the  68,134-capacity Krestovsky Stadium in Saint Petersburg, Russia, in the final of the 10th edition of the very lucrative FIFA Confederations Cup tournaments.

FIFA had announced mouth-watering prize monies for all 8 countries in the competition, saying that winners will receive US$ 5 million and the Runners-up US$ 4,500,000. Third-place winners will get US$ 3,500,000, 4th-place US$ 3 million and 5th- to 8th-place finisher will each get US$ 2 million.

In view of the largesse, Germany and Chile take to the field, not only fighting for the monetary gains but also fighting to preserve their perceived superiority and international records.

While Chile are debuting in Russia, Germany have not won the Confederations title before, only taking the 3rd-place spot in 2005 when they hosted.

Unconfirmed sources say on Sunday night, FIFA might be crowning the last-ever Confederations Cup champion although the FIFA President Gianni Infantino was distinctly non-committal when asked about it amid rumours that the competition might be replaced by some kind of global Champions League-like extravaganza reserved for clubs.

"Right now, the future of the Confederations Cup is Sunday's final," he said. "What happens after that is something we will analyse like we do with all our competitions. At this stage, there isn't much to say."

On paper, a competition pitting the champions of each confederation against the world champion and the host of the next World Cup ought to have profound appeal. If it is scrapped -- and especially if it's scrapped in favour of a club-driven competition -- it will speak volumes about where international football ranks relative to the club game.

However, these are considerations which will not interest Chile or Germany ahead of their clash. On Sunday each will get the chance to make history.

For Chile, it would mean winning their third consecutive international tournament after the two Copa America competitions. For Chile, a country that has won nothing on the big stage until two years ago, it would be an extraordinary feat.

For Germany, it has a different meaning. This is not the side that won the World Cup or which contested the Euros a year ago, as only three of the players in Russia were in the squad that triumphed in Brazil and, of those, only Shkodran Mustafi actually played, and he's likely to be on the bench today.

Coach Joachim Low's decision to give a number of his big guns - from Mesut Ozil to Manuel Neuer, from Toni Kroos to Sami Khedira, from Thomas Muller to Mats Hummels - the summer off did undeniably take some colour off their campaign.

His combination of understudies and rookies has proved to be up to the challenge. They've rolled through the tournament putting three goals past both Cameroon and Australia and four past Mexico. The likes of Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner have looked as proficient as the old reliables they are replacing. In Russia, the only side that have slowed them down, are Chile, who held them to a 1-1 draw in their group stage encounter.

The contrast with Chile is striking. Germany's most-capped player is Julian Draxler, with 34 appearances and there are no fewer than 11 Chile players with more international appearances.

The Germany side who defeated Mexico in the semifinal had 158 caps altogether at kickoff but the Chileans who dispatched Portugal had 870.

Seven German likely starters in Sunday's final were also in the team when Chile played Spain at the 2010 World Cup. By contrast, none of Germany's probable XI had even been capped at that stage, and more than half had yet to make their professional debuts.

It's not a case of young versus old. Chilean players have been together for a long time - four of the XI were on the under-20 side that fell to Argentina in the semifinal of the 2007 World Cup.

Germany, on the other hand, have been largely pieced together, and it's a credit to Low's coaching that in the space of a couple of weeks, he has turned them into a coherent team.

The big question is can Chile's older legs sustain the demands of the intensity a younger, physically stronger and bigger German side will throw into the match.

Either way, the world will be seeing, first hand, the strength and weaknesses of Germany and Chile showcased.

Shortly before the finals, Portugal and Mexico will square up in the third-place match at the Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow.
-0- PANA VAO/MA 2July2017

02 july 2017 07:13:05




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