The following article was published in the Irish Examiner following Germany’s 1-0 win over Chile in the 2017 Confederations Cup decider in Russia. Published Mon July 3rd 2017. – Enjoy, Ger McCarthy.
Germany’s conveyor belt of talent
Two statistics dominated social media following Germany’s Confederations Cup final victory over Chile last night. First, the average age of Joachim Low’s starting team was 24 years and 244 days. Second and in close comparison, the German’s recent U21 European Championship final winning side’s average was 22 years and 275 days, underlining the view that a potentially dominant young squad is evolving following on from the 2014 World Cup winners’ triumph in Brazil.
Although they came up short in the decider, Juan Antonio Pizzi’s Chilean side lit up this summer’s pre-World Cup tournament with their intricate passing, rapier-like counter-attacking and sometimes fiery reactions to match officials. 2015 and 2016 Copa America successes were built around the combined talents of Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Eduardo Vargas but an ageing Chile squad possesses enough bite to make an impact in Russia once again next year.
The conclusion to one of the most remarkable seasons in Cristiano Ronaldo’s distinguished career did not include a Confederations Cup medal. Instead, the Portuguese international had to be content with La Liga, Champions League, World Club Championship and European Championship successes plus the Ballon d’Or.Ronaldo still had time to help Portugal to a third-place finish in Russia before jetting off to the United States to greet the arrival of his new-born twins.
The Russian national team
Despite running a well organised tournament, a 2-0 victory over New Zealand is all Russia’s international team had to show during an otherwise uninspiring Confederations Cup. Add to that, an ongoing FIFA investigation into allegations that Russia’s entire squad were doping at the 2014 World Cup and next year’s showpiece global event cannot come quickly enough for the host nation.
The decision to trial FIFA’s video assistant referee technology at the Confederations Cup led to many confusing moments. Giving a referee the option to consult a VAR official or look at footage of an incident on a screen on the side of the pitch makes perfect sense, in theory. Yet, the long delays and inability of supporters or TV viewers to understand what’s going on during the decision-making process has instead, painted VAR in a negative light.