Reigning European champions Portugal are set to avoid World Cup holders Germany when both sides partake in the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2017.
Winners from each continents and hosts Russia are billed for the pre-World Cup tournament. Chile, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and winners of AFCON next year would join the European and World Cup champions at the even billed for June 17 to July 2.
Hosts Russia will open the tournament with the clash with New Zealand; the Oceania champions before Real Madrid super star Cristiano Ronaldo lead Portugal to play CONCACAF Champions Mexico.
Group B games will see Chile, Copa America defending champions, play the African Cup of Nations winner which will be decided in Gabon in January-February, 2017. Australia will be the first side to play Germany in Sochi, June 19.
The hosts have a number of unresolved issues with few months to go. There have been issues with the national team, corruption scandals left and right, aside delays in the construction of the stadium. The Russian national team is rebuilding with new coach Stanislav Cherchesov.
The Saint Petersburg stadium is a major concern for the host nation as the retractable pitch on the 68,000-seater stadium must be ready on time, for tests and tournament promotion ahead of the June date.
“We are meeting all our obligations. The World Cup is the main sports even worldwide and Russia will do everything to guarantee the highest level,” Russia deputy .
Mutko added that the Fisht Stadium will be completed this month while the Saint Petersburg Stadium will be done by the end of the year. He said test friendlies are set for the first quarter of next year.