2017 Confederations Cup: Russia v New Zealand Preview

Russia-New-Zealand-Preview

With the 2017 Confederations Cup kicking off on Saturday, our football writer previews the opening clash between hosts Russia and tournament outsiders New Zealand. 

Hosts Russia square off against New Zealand in St. Petersburg on Saturday in the opening match of the Confederations Cup. The Russians will be looking to show their competitiveness ahead of next year’s World Cup.

Russia v New Zealand | Group A | Saturday 17 June | Stadion Krestovskyi | 17:00

To Win (90 Mins)
Russia 3/10 | Draw 39/10 | New Zealand 9/1

Russia 
Russia automatically qualified for the tournament because they are the hosts. They have slipped to a record low 63rd in the FIFA world rankings, although that is due to playing only lower-ranked friendlies in recent months. They last won a competitive game in October 2015.

Russia have impressed in their last three friendlies, going unbeaten while winning once. They came from 3-1 down to earn a draw against Belgium. That result followed with a thumping 3-0 win away to Hungary, before earning a 1-1 draw against Chile last Friday.



Aleksandr Golovin is being hailed as the future of Russian football and is said to have attracted interest from Arsenal. The attacking midfielder has plenty of skill and intelligence on the ball. He will be integral to any success his country have in the tournament.

Feder Smolov is another key player for the hosts as he is lethal in front of goal. The 27-year-old has scored 38 league goals in 50 games for FC Krasnodar – an impressive tally, to say the least.

New Zealand
Coach Anthony Hudson guided New Zealand to victory over Papua New Guinea in the OFC Nations Cup final 12 months ago, which gave the All Whites their fourth appearance in the Confederations Cup. New Zealand is the lowest ranked (96th) nation in the tournament and they’ve never won a match in three previous Confederations Cup appearances.

The All Whites recorded back-to-back 2-0 victories over Fiji in Oceania 2018 World Cup qualifying in March. However, they were beaten 1-0 against Northern Ireland in a friendly on 2 June. Hudson will be hoping the tournament will act as a springboard to eventual World Cup qualification in November.



New Zealand doesn’t boast any high-profile names in their squad, with Winston Reid ruled out through a knee injury. SuperSport United defender Michael Boxall has been selected but the same can’t be said of his clubmate, Jeremy Brockie. Hudson will rely on highly-rated Leeds United star Chris Wood to fire his team to victory.

Verdict: Russia Win & Over 2.5 goals (13/20)
Russia held Belgium and Chile to draws in their last two friendlies on home soil. The Russians should prove too strong against the lowly-ranked All Whites. Back the hosts and Over 2.5 Goals at 13/20.

Written by Chadley Nagel @Hollywoodbets

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