Around this time next year, the eyes of the globe will converge on Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. The host country boasts an unmatched five titles and given the talent the current SeleÁ„o possesses, Brazil could very well add to their trophy case on home soil. However, before football fans flock to the festive South American countryís sandy beaches or find themselves in the frightening favelas, the 2013 Confederations Cup will serve as a warm-up for the main event.
Over the course of 15 days, eight national teams will compete for bragging rights ahead of next yearís Samba spectacle. A bevy of talent plying their trade in the Premier League will bless Brazilís newly-minted football cathedrals during pool play and knockout games. With this in mind, it is worthwhile to highlight some of the players who figure to be key contributors both for their country in the Cup and for fantasy owners in anticipation of the new EPL season.
Julio Cesar (Queens Park Rangers) Cesar will man the goal for Brazil. The 38-year-old was hardly the reason for QPRís recent relegation, posting five clean sheets and averaging over four saves in 24 starts this season. Given Brazilís ability to dominate possession, the reliable Cesar shouldnít be thrown into the action too often, but a strong performance could earn him a transfer to a more talented Premier League club for next season.
David Luiz (Chelsea) Luiz is a prototypical Brazilian defender with technical ability that few attackers from other countries can match. His six goals and three assists in all competitions for Chelsea this season serve as evidence of his offensive capabilities, which comes as a bonus in fantasy, where defenders otherwise earn points mostly through clean sheets.
Oscar (Chelsea) During his first Premiership season, the 21-year-old posted a decent four goals and five assists in 34 appearances. He figures to start alongside fellow highly-creative players in Brazilís attack, so opportunities to impress fantasy owners should be abound.
Shinji Kagawa (Manchester United) Fresh off his debut season in England, where he tallied six goals and three assists in only 20 appearances, Kagawa will spearhead Japanís front-line. His country will rely heavily on his quality to propel them out of pool play.
Javier Hernandez (Manchester United) Hernandez, who affectionately is referred to as ďChicharitoĒ by United and Mexico supporters, will be the focal point of El Triís attack. In 22 EPL appearances this season, the Mexican scored 10 goals and dished out three assists. He will have to be similarly productive to help his countryís chances.
No current EPL players on squad
Fernando Torres (Chelsea) Torres, who has scored 31 times in 101 appearances for his country, figures to see time as Spainís sole striker. He was inconsistent for Chelsea this season, but should have numerous scoring opportunities thanks to the wealth of talent around him.
Juan Mata (Chelsea) Mata would start for virtually any other national team; however, Spainís amazing combination of top quality and depth will likely limit his involvement. The little lefty tallied 16 goals and 20 assists in all competitions this season for Chelsea.
Santi Cazorla (Arsenal) Another unfortunate victim of the defending World Championsí dream-like roster, Cazorla will have to make his Cup impact in fewer minutes than he is accustomed to playing for Arsenal, where he slotted home 12 goals and provided 11 assists in his first Premier League season this year.
Other players to watch: Pepe Reina (Liverpool), Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea), Ignacio Monreal (Arsenal), David Silva (Manchester City), Jesus Navas (Manchester City)
Luis Suarez (Liverpool) After a 10 game suspension ended his Premier League season prematurely, Suarez will no doubt be hungry to prove his worth with Uruguay. Unlike his composure, Suarezís skill is unquestioned and the striker finished second in the Premier League with 23 goals this season.
Sebastian Coates (Liverpool) Along with Suarez, Coates will be representing both Liverpool and Uruguay at the Confederations Cup. The 22-year-old only featured five times in the Premier League this campaign, but figures to start in the middle of Uruguayís defense, potentially giving him a platform to display his ability to fantasy owners.
Other Premier League players: Gaston Ramirez (Southampton)
Victor Moses (Chelsea) Though he represented Englandís national team at earlier ages, the 22-year-old Moses opted to play at the senior level for his birth-country Nigeria. The attacking player didnít have much impact after moving to Chelsea last summer, but likely will be one of Nigeriaís more effective players given his experience playing against top competition.
Other Premier League players: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea)
No current EPL players on squad