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Is Confederation Cup success a predictor of World Cup success?

Jun 15, 2013, 8:10 AM EDT


Something to keep in mind as you watch the Confederations Cup over the next two weeks:

Watch and enjoy, I say. Heck, outside of Major League Soccer, it’s a dead spot in a soccer caldendar that pretty much cranks out the greatness year-round otherwise.

If you are looking for significance in as a predictor of success – a fair premise, as the Confeds Cup is employed as a “dress rehearsal” for the next year’s World Cup and frequently involves many of the same nations – well, don’t look too hard.

(MORE: Quick guide to each Confeds Cup team’s stars)

If we look at the last three Confeds Cups that were held a year out in the World Cup countries, the winners neither the winners nor the runners-up did much to scream about a year later inside the  same country, inside some of the very same stadiums.

2001 final – France defeats Japan, 2-1:

France was freakin’ awful a year later, ridiculously rudderless without talismanic leader Zinedine Zidane. Japan made it to the second round but lost to Turkey, not an overly impressive showing from one of the hosts.

2005 final – Brazil defeats Argentina, 4-1:

Whenever Brazil does not win the World Cup, it always feels like a national crisis in the country. When Brazil is eliminated in the quarterfinals, the world must be falling apart! So, yeah. Argentina had a strong team but also fell in the quarters, eliminated in penalty kicks after a good match with Germany.

2009 final – Brazil defeats the United States 3-2:

Yes, the United States! Little ol’ us! Remember how swell it was to take a bit out of majestic Spain in the semifinal! Holy Xavi, those were  good times! .. But then, remember how lousy it felt going out to freakin’ Ghana, again, in the Round of 16? All the scourge of “opportunity lost” careening toxically around the interwebs? Yeah, that sucked.

Brazil went out to Netherlands, not looking too wise in that quarterfinal in Port Elizabeth.

(MORE: Confederations Cup preview)

  1. dfstell - Jun 15, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    Isn’t this just a commentary on how fluky tournament soccer is? A 4-team group followed by single elimination is no way to find out who “The Best” is, and it just isn’t likely that a team will run that probability gauntlet back-to-back.

    Even if we just wanted to find out who was “The Best” between Italy and Spain we’d probably need them to play 20-30 times to get a definitive answer.

  2. tylerbetts - Jun 15, 2013 at 11:35 AM

    Maybe not a predictor of WC Success, but it seems to have worked just fine as a “Dress Rehearsal” for the USMNT.

    Think about it …

    Needing a miracle on the final day of group play in the Confed Cup.
    Needing a miracle in the final minutes of group lay in the World Cup.

    A moment we’ll always talk about – defeating Spain in a competitive game.
    A moment we’ll always talk about – Landon Donovan’s goal vs. Algeria.

    Hope and optimism (for good reason) to bring the US team to new modern heights – a 2-0 lead in a tournament final.
    Hope and optimism (for good reason) to bring the US team to new modern heights – topping the group gave a fairly reasonable draw with optimism for a semifinal appearance.

    And, the resounding thud of those hopes and dreams crashing – Brazil 3 – 2 USA.
    And, the resounding thud of those hopes and dreams crashing – Ghana. Again.

  3. jhalion - Jun 15, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Well put Tyler. Playing in these tournaments might not be indicative of future success given the small sample size but that 09 Confed Cup definitely made more people (general public) aware of the USMNT heading to SA2010. I wish we were in this years edition; who knows what we would have done with JK as boss.

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