Ger­many to face Chile at Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

World Cup win­ner Ger­many will play South Amer­i­can cham­pion Chile in the group stage of next year’s Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup.

The Ger­mans will also take on Aus­tralia and the African cham­pion, to be de­ter­mined in Fe­bru­ary, in Group B.

Euro­pean cham­pion Por­tu­gal will face hosts Rus­sia in Group A, along with Mex­ico and New Zealand. Rus­sia will play New Zealand in the open­ing game in St. Peters­burg.

The tour­na­ment runs from June 17 to July 2 next year in Moscow, St. Peters­burg, Kazan and Sochi, and is a warmup event for the 2018 World Cup in Rus­sia. It’s a key test for some of the trick­ier ar­eas of Rus­sia’s prepa­ra­tions, in­clud­ing the costly and much de­layed 69,000-seat St. Peters­burg sta­dium. The Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup’s fu­ture af­ter 2017 is un­cer­tain, with FIFA pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino say­ing ear­lier yes­ter­day that the for­mat could be changed and “we are putting ev­ery­thing on the table.”

That’s be­cause the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will be held in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, mean­ing the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup would cause se­vere dis­rup­tion to the club cal­en­dar if held in its tra­di­tional slot a year be­fore the big­ger tour­na­ment. In­fantino said FIFA of­fi­cials are dis­cussing ques­tions such as “Shall we play it in June? Shall we play it in Novem­ber? Shall we think about the for­mat?”

Last year, then-FIFA sec­re­tary gen­eral Jerome Val­cke said the 2021 tour­na­ment would be moved from Qatar and played else­where in Asia. The Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup fea­tures many of the best teams in world foot­ball - with FIFA’s six con­ti­nen­tal cham­pi­ons, plus the World Cup holder and the fol­low­ing year’s World Cup host. But it has strug­gled to build a dis­tinct iden­tity be­yond be­ing sim­ply a test event for a larger tour­na­ment.

Ger­many coach Joachim Loew plans to leave out some of the World Cup holder’s es­tab­lished play­ers to fo­cus on youth at next year’s tour­na­ment in Rus­sia, but In­fantino in­sisted that didn’t de­value the com­pe­ti­tion.

“I’m sure that Joachim Loew and his team ... they take the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup very, very se­ri­ously,” In­fantino said. —AP

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