Terrified of the idea of a whole summer without football? Dreading the thought of your own goal drought? It’s cool, it’s fine, the Confederations Cup is almost here – and we’re pumped.
This year’s tournament will be the tenth in history and sees the champions of six confederations (plus current FIFA World Cup holders Germany) making the trip to Russia.
A year before the World Cup hits Moscow, a 16-day, 16-game scramble for silverware awaits.
But who are the players set to whet the appetites of international fans this summer? Kitbag picks out a few of our favourites, as another feast of football gets ready to kick off.
With 108 caps, 37 goals and back-to-back Copa Americas for Chile, Alexis Sanchez is so popular back home that he’s already been given a statue! The Arsenal man, who won his second FA Cup in May, will spearhead Chile’s attack this summer, much as he did for the Gunners in their EPL campaign. A right-footer, Sanchez can offer his teammates an extra option on the wing and will be a sure-fire handful for opponents in the 2017 tournament.
A perfect fit for speedsters like Sanchez, the livewire is expected to wear the latest Motion Blur Vapors in Russia, direct from Nike’s new Time to Shine pack. With the ability to launch unpredictable assaults on goal, Sanchez’s boots are ready to leave defenders on their backs.
Just like at Arsenal, Sanchez will wear the #7 in Russia – though it was with Chile that he first took on the number, keeping for almost a decade since. One of the tournament’s biggest hitters, Sanchez could have a massive Confederations Cup in store. Yet, with his long-time future at the Emirates unclear, could he also be looking to put himself in the shop window?
Capping 139 appearances and 73 goals with a first international trophy, what more can be said about Cristiano Ronaldo? The deadliest finisher in Real Madrid history and a three-time UCL Final goalscorer, Ronaldo is Portugal’s Player of the Year – and their biggest offensive weapon.
Footballing royalty, not only at home but across the globe, Ronaldo will captain his national side in Russia, wearing his latest CR7 custom boots. Lightweight vessels in tune with the man himself, the powerful speed and breaking power of this first-rate footwear gives Ronaldo every chance of adding to his incredible goalscoring record, from in and around the box.
For opponents and fans alike, Portugal’s main man remains the kind of player you cannot keep your eyes off. With stats unmatched in the modern game, an incredible record speaks for itself. Simply put, Ronaldo is a big match specialist and a talent that never fails to turn up.
A newcomer on the international scene, Bernardo Silva’s 12 caps and one goal for Portugal should be only the start. The former Monaco midfielder is considered a massive prospect, not least by Man City, who splashed out £43m at the end of May to make him their latest recruit.
A hit in Portugal since his time at Benfica, the stage is set for Silva to shine this summer. Boot-wise, Silva’s adidas Nemeziz 17+ boots are ideal for unlocking his agility, allowing the kind of radical movement that ripped defences apart in Ligue 1 all season.
In the upcoming Premier League campaign, Silva will take on the #20 shirt, having worn four different numbers with Monaco. For Portugal though, the 22-year old will play in the same #10 worn for years by the mighty Rui Costa. Keen to make a similar mark ahead of his move to England, Silva’s is a player on the rise – and certainly one to watch this June (and July?!).
Our final player to keep tabs on, Arturo Vidal has scored 22 times in 88 appearances for Chile – so, a goal in every four games. Not bad for a man who plays primarily in midfield for Bayern Munich. A top star in Germany, Vidal might be an even bigger deal in Chile, with the 30-year old a former FIFA cover star there, as well as Chilean Footballer of the Year last year.
Another Time to Shine convert, Vidal’s Nike Magistra Obras deliver the kind of precise touch that commands the middle of the park – with superior traction helping him keep control and quickly switch between attack and defensive play.
Wearing the #8 shirt for Chile and not his #23 worn at Bayern Munich, Juventus and Bayer Leverkusen, Vidal has been a #8 for his whole international career. Whatever the number though, Vidal is a winner, from his formative years at Colo-Colo to the present day. Following four straight Scudettos with back-to-back Bundesliga titles, Vidal has been touted as the planet’s best box-to-box midfielder – and this summer in Russia, the world could well see why.