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Six Strikers to Watch in the Confederations Cup

Friday 2nd June 2017
Russia 2018 looms ever closer. Yet, prior to that, we have its preparation tournament, aka the Confederations Cup. Eight nations, some of which treat it a lot more seriously than others, contest a fortnight's worth of football for a lesser known piece of silverware. Here are six forwards who can make an impact with their collective goal threats.

Deutschland Duo

Joachim Loew will almost certainly use this tournament to experiment with a fresh wave of German players who don't usually see daylight when it comes to international tournaments. This means no Manuel Neuer, Mesut Ozil, or Thomas Mueller. Other players will have their chance to show Die Mannschaft what they've got. Two such players are Borussia Monchengladbach's Lars Stindl and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig.

Stindl is the elder, at 28. He has yet to represent his country in the senior team although the Speyer native does have youth caps at various levels. While Die Fohlen had a disappointing season, finishing ninth in the league, Stindl contributed almost a quarter of the team's league goals. That was enough to merit him a place in this squad.
Werner, meanwhile, was on fire. His move to hugely unpopular RB Leipzig to start the season has produced nothing but success. He scored a staggering 21 goals in 34 games, finishing the campaign with a 61% accuracy rate when shooting. If you can play like that, you'd think fans could spell your name correctly.

Statistics don't lie, though. At just 21, Timo is a hot commodity. Liverpool are said to lead the way to signing him this summer. Werner has one prior senior level appearance but will certainly make the most of this opportunity to cement himself as a regular for the full national side.

A Socceroo in Deutschland

Jamie MacLaren had a good season with A-League's Brisbane Roar. The Melbourne lad scored 20 times in 28 appearances for the orange-clad side, just one goal behind top scorer, Kosovar Albanian Besart Berisha. After completing his season and post-season with the Roar, his talents sparked SV Darmstadt's interest. The Aussie agreed to join the club despite it having been relegated to 2. Bundesliga.

While MacLaren is not yet a regular for the national side, Tim Cahill's age (37) forces Socceroos boss Ange Postecoglou to be on the lookout for his replacement. Meanwhile, there's no reason that the younger man can't partner with the Totti-esque veteran. After all, he's proven he has the pedigree for Australian club football.
La Liga Bound

Hirving Lozano has been heavily linked with a move to Celta Vigo from his native club, Pachuca. Affectionately known as Chucky, the 21-year-old from Mexico City already has silverware and individual accolades to his name, despite only playing the game professionally for three years. Such honours include a Clausura title, CONCACAF Champions League medal, and several individual awards for his performances in Liga MX and El Tri's U-20 side.

Injury limited Lozano to 26 appearances this season. He still scored an impressive 18 goals across all competitions, two against MLS side FC Dallas helping to pave the way to Pachuca's inspiring CCL win. Should he replicate this rich vein for the senior Mexican side, he'll be one to watch at this summer's Confederations Cup.
The AFCON Star

Anyone who watched this year's African Cup of Nations will remember the Cameroonian national side's convolutions. Despite winning the competition, they didn't always look great. Christian Bassogog was the one real constant throughout the Indomitable Lions' tournament, perhaps their best player. He only scored one goal and an assist but his work rate was unquestionable. Another 21-year-old exceeding his years, he was hailed by CAF as the tournament's best player.

The recognition secured him a big-money move from the Danish Superliga to Henan Jianye in the Chinese Super League. Massive cultural changes again failed to stop the Cameroonian. He's adapted well to the Far East with three goals in nine appearances, so far. His teammates, however, are struggling, sitting second from bottom in the league table.
Another drastic change awaits when he breaks away from the Chinese season to join up with Hugo Broos and his national side in Russia. If he can show the entire world what he did in Gabon, there's no doubt he could be one of the players of the tournament.

The Eye of the Dragon

Finishing second in Primeira Liga will never, ever, be enough for a club like Porto. Especially when you consider its nemesis, Benfica, has won the title four years running. Dragões fans will at least be able to savour their homegrown forward's emergence. Andre Silva, a Porto boy through and through, has almost established himself a starter in the senior side. He made 32 appearances, scoring 16 goals during the 2016-17 campaign, the third most prolific goal scorer in the Portuguese league this season. Not a bad record for a--you guessed it--21-year-old's first full season in senior level football.
Competition in the Portuguese national team is rife, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad. Silva has only made six appearances to date for A Seleccao. That said, Fernando Santos dare not leave him out. Silva has five goals in that time, including a hat-trick against the Faroe Islands in Torshavn. Coupled with his excellent season with Porto, that makes him a must see in Russia this summer.

These six forwards have the rare opportunity to win the Confederations Cup. While not holding the same grandeur as other summer tournaments, should you be taking to the field in Russia, you'll want to win it. Such motivation will hopefully bring out the best in these six players to make for a real goal-fest. The tournament kicks off on Saturday, 17 June, with Russia playing New Zealand. It will be broadcast in the UK by ITV.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.


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