With the World Cup in Brazil just one a year away, all eyes will be on Brazil over the next fortnight as they stage the official dress rehearsal – the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup – and every match is live on the BBC from June 15-30.
The quadrennial tournament features the six international confederation champions, along with the current World Cup holders and its next host nation.
Six of the stadiums set to be used for next year’s World Cup, including the rebuilt Estádio do Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro, will stage the tournament.
The focus of the footballing world will be on Brazil with the nation’s readiness to host next year’s championship under considerable scrutiny.
Their fortunes on the pitch are also a source of great intrigue with a succession of underwhelming friendly results doing serious damage to Brazil’s FIFA World Ranking.
However, they come into the Confederations Cup with a bit of momentum having finally recorded their first victory over opponents of stature this year beating France 3-0 in Belo Horizonte on Sunday.
The Confederations Cup sees the following year’s World Cup hosts take on the various continental champions and the World Cup holders.
With Spain holding both the World and European titles, Euro 2012 runners-up Italy take the European berth.
Spain bring a strong squad and will be hoping to win the Confederations Cup for the first time, having lost to the United States in the semi finals in 2009.
Midfielder Xabi Alonso is absent with injury but forward David Villa, who missed Euro 2012, returns to tournament action.
Japan, Mexico and Italy provide the opposition for the hosts in what promises to be a very competitive Group A.
Japan became the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in early June with a 1-1 draw against Australia but Mexico are struggling in the ‘Hex’ competition in North America having developed a penchant for 0-0 draws.
In Group B, Spain will face Uruguay, Tahiti and Nigeria. With Spain favourites to top the table, the match between the Copa América holders and Africa Cup of Nations winners is set to be the key contest in the group.
Uruguay will go into the tournament with renewed optimism following a massive win in Venezuela in the World Cup Eliminatorias which revives their flagging hopes of reaching the big one next year.
Forwards Edinson Cavani, Luis Suárez and Diego Forlán lend a touch of stardust to the squad.
Nigeria are beset by injuries, with forwards Emmanuel Emenike, Kalu Uche and Victor Moses all absent but other big names such as Obafemi Martins, Taye Taiwo, Peter Odemwingie, Joseph Yobo and Haruna Lukman have all been left out of the squad.
Little is expected of Tahiti, surprise winners of last year’s Oceania Nations Cup after New Zealand suffered a shock semi-final defeat to New Caledonia, except perhaps the tumbling of records for goals conceded.
They lost their warm-up friendly 7-0 to a Chile U20 side and Nigeria are as ungenerous as twenty-to-one ‘on’ with one bookmaker to defeat them in their first match on Monday evening.
Some of the world’s best footballers will descend on Brazil as they compete over 16 matches and six different venues to give football fans across the world a glimpse of what Brazil 2014 will be like.
From world champions Spain to the use of goal-line technology, the romance of Tahiti’s involvement to questions over Brazil’s readiness to stage the biggest football tournament in the world, the 2013 Confederations Cup looks set to provide plenty of talking points.
Preview by Mike Martin – @thefootietweet
The BBC are bringing out their big guns for its coverage of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
With live football increasingly rare on the public service broadcaster, Match of the Day fans will be served up a treat over the next fortnight.
All 16 games will air on TV across BBC One, BBC Three and BBC Red Button, plus live online coverage of each match via the BBC Sport website.
Gary Lineker will lead the presenting team for key games during the tournament, including both semi-finals and the final on June 30.
Mark Chapman and Dan Walker will also present selected games, with studio analysis coming from BBC regulars Alan Hansen, Alan Shearer, Pat Nevin and Robbie Savage and Dion Dublin.
Former Uruguay forward Gus Poyet and ex-Nigeria midfielder Sunday Oliseh will also be part of the studio punditry team.
Senior Match of the Day commentators Guy Mowbray, Jonathan Pearce and Steve Wilson will be jetting out to Brazil to share commentary duties on all 16 games.
Alongside them will be Mark Lawrenson, Martin Keown and TV co-commentary newcomer Kevin Kilbane, who has been a regular summariser on Radio 5 live in recent years.
The Confederations Cup will be one of the first sporting events to be aired on the BBC’s new Red Button HD stream, which allows viewers to see matches on BBC Three and BBC Red Button in crystal clear high-definition.
BBC Red Button HD is on Freeview HD channel 303 and is also available on Sky HD and Freesat. The service will also be used during Wimbledon and Glastonbury Festival.
Live online streaming of each match, as well as text commentaries, highlights and reports, can be found via the BBC Sport website.
The Confederations Cup is being held exactly one year before the staging of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, which BBC TV will also be covering.
Saturday 15th June BRAZIL 3-0 JAPAN – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Nacional, Brasilia LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three Highlights: 10.30pm BBC One Sunday 16th June MEXICO 1-2 ITALY – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Maracana, Rio de Janerio LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three SPAIN 2-1 URUGUAY – Group B Kick-off: 23:00 | Arena Pernambuco, Recife LIVE: 10.25pm-1.00am BBC One Monday 17th June TAHITI 1-6 NIGERIA – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Mineriao, Belo Horizonte LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three Wednesday 19th June BRAZIL 2-0 MEXICO – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three ITALY 4-3 JAPAN – Group A Kick-off: 23:00 | Arena Pernambuco, Recife LIVE: 10.35pm-1.00am BBC One Thursday 20th June SPAIN 10-0 TAHITI – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | Maracana, Rio de Janerio LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three NIGERIA 1-2 URUGUAY – Group B Kick-off: 23:00 | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three Saturday 22nd June ITALY 2-4 BRAZIL – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three JAPAN 1-2 MEXICO – Group A Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Mineirao, Belo Horizonte LIVE: 7.55pm-10.00pm BBC Red Button Highlights: 10.30pm-11.20pm BBC One Sunday 23rd June NIGERIA 0-3 SPAIN – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three URUGUAY 8-0 TAHITI – Group B Kick-off: 20:00 | Arena Pernambuco, Recife Delayed: 10.00pm-12.00am BBC Red Button Wednesday 26th June BRAZIL 2-1 URUGUAY – Semi Final 1 Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Mineriao, Belo Horizonte LIVE: 7.30pm-10.00pm BBC Three Thursday 27th June SPAIN 0-0 ITALY (AET) ESP won 7-6 on pens – Semi Final 2 Kick-off: 20:00 | Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza LIVE: 7.55pm-10.00pm BBC One (Match build-up via BBC Red Button from 7.30pm) Sunday 30th June URUGUAY v ITALY – 3rd Place Play-off Kick-off: 17:00 | Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador LIVE: 4.55pm-7.00pm BBC Red Button
BRAZIL v SPAIN – FIFA Confederations Cup Final 2013 Kick-off: 23:00 | Maracana, Rio de Janeiro LIVE: 10.25pm-1.30am BBC One