[CONFEDERATIONS CUP: Group B] Spain was greeted by temperatures in the 80s and heavy rains in the northern city of Recife as it arrived for the Confederations Cup. Those are in sharp contrast to the near-freezing conditions in which it exited the Confederations Cup four years ago when it fell to the USA, 2-0, in South Africa. The La Furia Roja hopes Brazil will be an environment more suited to its short-passing game as it chases the only title that has eluded it for the last six years.
Confederations Cup: Group A Preview
Confederations Cup: Five Players to Watch
SPAIN. Winner of the 2010 World
Cup and Euro 2008 and Euro 2010, Spain will look to win the 2013 Confederations Cup with basically the same team from four years ago.
Vicente Del Bosque
returns as coach, and seven of the 11 starters from the 2-0 loss to the USA in Bloemfontein. Andres Iniesta, who missed out on the 2009 Confederations
Cup trip, is also with the team. Notable absences are Barcelona defender Carles Puyol (knee surgery) and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso (groin surgery).
Del Bosque has a deep squad, especially up front, where Spain got goals from second-half substitutes Roberto
Soldado and Juan Mata in the 2-0 win over Ireland Tuesday in front of 39,368 fans at Yankee Stadium.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), Victor Valdes (Barcelona), Pepe Reina
Defenders: Ignacio Monreal (Arsenal), Jordi Alba
(Barcelona), Raul Albiol (Real Madrid), Gerard Pique (Barcelona), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Alvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid).
Midfielders: Andres Iniesta (Barcelona), Santi Cazorla (Arsenal), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Xavi (Barcelona),
Javi Martinez (Bayern Munich), Cesc Fabregas (Barcelona), Jesus Navas (Sevilla).
Forwards: Juan Mata (Chelsea), David Silva (Man. City), Pedro (Barcelona), David Villa (Barcelona), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Roberto Soldado (Valencia).
URUGUAY. It's been a struggle for the Celeste since its 2011 Copa America title, but it appears to be rounding into form for the Confederations Cup with 1-0 wins over
France in a friendly and at Venezuela in a World Cup qualifier that got it back in the hunt in the South American qualifying group.
Luis Suarez and
Edinson Cavani will have to put aside plans for club moves as they lead Uruguay in Group B.
Suarez is rumored to be leaving Liverpool for Real
Madrid, but he says he's not trying to use the Confederations as a showcase for a summer transfer. "Here I come to play for Uruguay and not thinking what I can do to benefit a transfer," he said. "My
only goal is to win the cup." Cavani supposedly has his heart set on also moving to Real Madrid from Napoli.
Goalkeepers: Fernando Muslera (Galatasaray), Martin Silva (Olimpia) and Juan Castillo (Danubio).
Defenders: Diego Lugano (Malaga), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Sebastian
Coates (Liverpool), Martín Caceres (Juventus), Mathias Aguirregaray (Penarol), Maximiliano Pereira (Benfica, Portugal), Andres Scotti (Nacional).
Midfielders: Alvaro Gonzalez (Lazio), Alvaro Pereira (Inter Milan), Egidio Arevalo Rios (Palermo), Diego
Pérez (Bologna), Walter Gargano (Inter Milan), Sebastian Eguren (Libertad), Cristian Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid), Gaston Ramirez (Southampton), Nicolas Lodeiro (Botafogo).
Forwards: Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Edinson Cavani (Napoli), Diego Forlan
(Internacional), Abel Hernandez (Palermo).
NIGERIA. Nigeria missed its flight to Brazil Thursday from Namibia following a 1-1 draw against
Namibia in World Cup 2014 qualifying as the Super Eagles went on strike after they didn't receive the bonus money owed them from the federation before federation officials flew on to Brazil.
Players and team staff remained behind at their hotel until an arrangement was worked out with FIFA's intervention so they could be paid their bonus money.
The Super Eagles were
scheduled to arrive in Brazil Saturday on a flight from Namibia and open against Tahiti in Belo Horizonte on Monday.
Goalkeepers: Chigozie Agbim (Warri Wolves), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva), Vincent Enyeama (Maccabi Tel
Defenders: Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), Efe Ambrose
(Celtic), Uwa Echiejile (Braga), Kenneth Omeruo (ADO), Godfrey Oboabona (Sunshine Stars), Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars), Francis Benjamin (Heartland)
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio), John Ogu (Academia), Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers),
Michael Babatunde (Kryvbas Kryvyi), Fegor Ogude (Valerenga).
Forwards: Joseph Akpala (Werder Bremen), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev), Anthony Ujah (FC Cologne), Nnamdi Oduamadi (Varese), Muhammad Gambo (Kano Pillars FC), Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow)
TAHITI. Tahiti won the Oceania title but appears to be in way over its head for the Confederations Cup. On the way to Brazil, Tahiti stopped off in Chile, where it
lost to Chile's U-20 national team, 7-0.
"Many people are surprised we actually play football on grass and not just on the beach for fun," Henri Thierry
Ariiotima, the president of the Tahiti federation, told Reuters," but we do, and we are
improving at it."
It's a dream for the Tahitians -- all but Marama Vahirua, a former French under-21 international, are amateurs -- to play in
places like the Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, and their goal is to avoid a rout.
"I just hope we get our tactics right," Ariiotima said.
Goalkeepers: Xavier Samin (Dragon), Mickael Roche (Dragon), Gilbert Meriel
Defenders: Vincent Simon (Dragon), Teheivarii Ludivion
(Tefana), Nicolas Vallar (Dragon), Stephane Faatiarau (Tefana), Tamatoa Wagemann (Dragon), Yannick Vero (Dragon), Edson Lemaire (Dragon), Rainui Aroita (Tamarii Faa’a)
Midfielders: Jonathan Tehau (Tamarii Faa’a), Lorenzo Tehau (Tefana),
Alvin Tehau (Tefana), Stanley Atani (Tefana), Heimano Bourebare (Tefana), Henri Caroine (Dragon), Ricky Aitamai (Vénus), Yohann Tihoni (Roniu)
Forwards: Steevy Chong Hue (Dragon), Teaonui Tehau (Dragon), Samuel Hnanyine (Dragon), Marama Vahirua