With only eight countries taking part and some unexpected squad selections, 2017 Confederations Cup betting offers bettors a unique challenge. This article analyses how average age, number of caps and international goals scored, along with each country's FIFA rankings can inform your 2017 Confederations Cup betting. Read on to find out more.
The Confederations Cup has been in existence since 1997, although the previously contested King Fahd Cup has retrospectively been recognised as the precursor to the competition. It is currently played every four years and since 2001 has been held in the country that will host the next World Cup.
The participants are the current holders of the regional championship of the six FIFA confederations, along with a host country and the reigning World Champions - if a country meets multiple qualifying criteria, guest countries are invited.
The format consists of two seeded, round robin groups where the winners and runners-up advance to a semi-final knockout stage. The group winners play the runner-up from the other group.
This year’s participants are; Russia (FIFA ranked 61), Germany (3), as World Cup holders, joined by Australia (50), New Zealand (112), Chile (4), Cameroon (33), Portugal (8) and Mexico (16), representing the six confederations.
2017 Confederations Cup betting - Experience and goals
As a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup, each country tends to send an experienced squad of players to the tournament. The average age of the 16 teams who competed in the previous two tournaments in 2009 and 2013 was just over 26, firmly in the peak years for player performance and the average number of caps already won by a squad member was 29.
As a baseline performance figure, the average number of goals previously scored in their international career by a squad player was just over four goals; although the quality of the opposition in different conferences makes comparisons between countries sometimes difficult.
For example, Iraq’s squad in 2009 averaged 5.6 goals per outfield squad player, the best average of the eight teams, but they failed to score in any of their group matches.
Despite these differences between confederations, these baseline figures are a useful guide when judging the makeup of the squads, although some have yet to be finalised.
Germany appear to have taken a relatively young group of players to Russia, with an average age of just 24 and fewer than 7 caps per player, on average. This is particularly the case in attack, with barely any caps and a squad that can boast just 0.4 full international goals per player.
Chile, Portugal and Mexico are likely to send the most experienced, goal-laden selections, many of whom are still in their peak years.
Why FIFA rankings are important for 2017 Confederations Cup betting
Despite this variation in approach to selection, the FIFA rankings, for all their flaws have been a good indicator of match and tournament outcomes at previous Confederations Cups.
FIFA’s top-ranked team at the time has been represented in each of the seven Confederations Cups under the 8 team format, although ever present and current topped ranked side, Brazil miss out in Russia.
Relative minnows, such as New Zealand (ranked 107th in 1999) and Tahiti (135th in 2013) have also participated.
Quality invariably does well at the tournament, the highest ranked side amongst the 8 contestants has won three out of the seven cups. Twice the winner has been the second highest ranked side, followed by one cup each for the 3rd and 5th best-ranked team in the 8 side line up.
The median ranking for the tournament runner-up amongst the 8 teams is 4th best, with a couple of the highest ranked sides falling in the final.
Lesser ranked teams have contested the 3rd and 4th place playoff game, and a couple of 6th and a couple of 7th tournament ranked teams have progressed out of the groups, but lost in the knockout stage.
Colombia in 2003, Uruguay in 1997 and Saudi Arabia in 1999 each finished 4th with a FIFA ranking respectively of 39, 43 and 40, along with hosts South Africa who also lost both knockout games in 2009 with a FIFA ranking of 77.
It’s also worth noting that the hosts, because they stage the upcoming World Cup, may have artificially lower current FIFA rankings as a result of not having to take part in World Cup qualification games.
The correlation between match outcomes and FIFA rankings
The outcomes of matches are also strongly correlated to the relative difference in FIFA rankings.
Based on the historical results between sides of different rankings, a team that is 8 ranking spots above their opponent, such as will be the case when Portugal (8) play Mexico (16) has resulted in the higher ranked team winning 50% of the games.
Similarly, the near 50 ranking place difference between Germany and Australia has historically led to the higher ranked team winning just under 70% of such games and the relationship between the difference in FIFA ranking and the frequency of wins recorded by the higher team is shown in the table above.
In the goal markets, the slightly more relaxed nature of the competition, but particularly the occasional mismatch has led to an average of 3 goals per game.
However, over 7% of the total goals scored in the Confederations Cup since 1997 were scored in the three 2013 group matches involving Tahiti and a more pertinent statistic is that 56% of the matches have gone over 2.5 goals.
South America, or more particularly Brazil has dominated the tournament since the 8 team tournament was introduced, winning four times compared to two wins by Europe (France on both occasions), Mexico were the remaining winner, one of three winning host countries.
So with doubts about the quality of the German squad, Brazil absent and Chile possibly selecting home based players who may be playing in unfamiliar conditions, Portugal, ranked 8th by FIFA and the 3rd highest ranked side at the tournament may be rewarded for selecting an experienced squad of players.