Our football expert Nick Hext makes Portugal his pick to win this summer's Confederations Cup in Russia, which gets under way on Saturday.
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One year away from the 2018 World Cup finals, Russia gets ready on and off the field by hosting this summer’s Confederations Cup.
The eight-nation tournament rarely makes too many headlines in Great Britain but it’s live on ITV and provides some summer football entertainment.
There are two groups of four and the top two from each section go through to the semi-finals. I’m sure you can work out that the winners of the two semis will meet in the final. Click here for full fixture list and schedule.
The six FIFA confederation championship winners join hosts Russia and world champions Germany in the scrap to come out on top.
Russia are with Portugal (Europe), Mexico (North and Central America) and New Zealand (Oceania) in Group A, while Group B contains Germany, Australia (Asia), Cameroon (Africa) and Chile (South America).
Germany and Portugal are battling it out at the top of the outright market and it’s the European champions I want to back for success this summer.
Portugal are out to make it back-to-back tournament triumphs after Euro 2016 glory in France and coach Fernando Santos has selected a strong squad to complete that task.
Cristiano Ronaldo leads the way for the Portuguese and the Real Madrid star showed he’s still in fine fettle with a double in the 3-0 win over Latvia in Friday night’s World Cup qualifier.
Portugal do though still have plenty of work to do in order to return to Russia next year.
They sit three points behind leaders Switzerland in their World Cup qualification group but it’s been five qualifying wins in a row after losing to the table-toppers in their opening contest.
The qualifying campaign will all come down to October’s game at home to the Swiss and I’d back Portugal to get the victory required if they maintain their current momentum.
Portugal have claimed all of their seven wins during the 2016/17 season by three or more goals with Andre Silva providing the main attacking support for Ronaldo.
Silva is buoyed by completing a £33million move from Porto to AC Milan this week and it’s sensible business from the Serie A giants to get the deal completed before the striker has the chance to further enhance his stock.
Portugal are far stronger than New Zealand, Russia and Mexico so I expect them to reach the last four with ease, alongside one of Russia and Mexico who will face a winner-takes-all game in Kazan to end the Group A fixtures.
Coach Santos is feeling more confident about things after switching his attention to the Confederations Cup following the victory over Latvia.
"A year ago I said that Portugal were going to Euro 2016 to win it. I said we were not favourites, but contenders for victory. I keep that same confidence today," he said.
I disagree slightly with Santos as I make Portugal favourites and that’s why I’ll show them support in the outright betting.
The case for Portugal is helped by Germany boss Joachim Low selecting an inexperienced squad. Only six of the squad were at Euro 2016 last summer and just three are world champions from the 2014 success in Brazil.
Low says he wants to “learn the next generation of the national team” which will be interesting to watch but provides uncertainty - not something you want when backing a team entering a tournament as favourites.
Chile are interesting contenders in Group B but 10/3 to enjoy Confederations Cup success isn’t tempting enough for me to get involved.
Any team with Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal in it always has a chance but the Copa America champions’ recent away record isn’t too impressive.
They’ve failed to win any of their last five World Cup qualifiers on the road, losing four and drawing one of those games, and much better than that will be required against this summer’s leading contenders.
Germany’s changes give Chile a chance of topping Group B but there is a much stronger argument to be made for Portugal leaving Russia with the trophy.
Both Germany and Chile can be expected to make it out of Group B. Australia are a long way short of the pair’s quality and Cameroon will be pleased just to make it to the tournament after internal wrangles put their place in doubt.
A surprise is always possible with the main focus for each nation on next summer but everything points to Portugal as the most settled and consistent of the eight contenders going for glory.
Where to watch on TV: ITV and ITV4
Posted at 0650 BST on 14/06/17.
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Our Nick Hext makes Portugal his pick to win this summer's Confederations Cup in Russia.