Confederations Cup 2017: What do you need to know?

One of the least celebrated international tournaments will be held in Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup, with three of the world's top 10 teams partaking.

Confederations Cup 2017: What do you need to know?
The trophy eight teams will be fighting for (photo: Getty Images / Anadolu Agency)

The 2017 Confederations Cup gets underway on Saturday, with the tournament to be held in Russia ahead of the 2018 World Cup next year.

It's a tournament that often gives football fans their fix in a summer absent of club football, but isn't considered as one of the most glamorous due to being just an eight team tournament. 

Who's partaking, and how are they divided?

Eight teams take part in the tournament, the first of which being the country that will hold the tournament in the year after. In this case, Russia.

Add into that the World Cup winners Germany, European Championship winners Portugal and Copa America champions Chile and you've got quite the little competition.

Throwing in champions of Africa, Asia, Australasia and North America, Cameroon, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico, and you've got your eight teams.

They're split into two groups, with the top two of each group progressing into the semi-finals, first playing second each time.

Group A: Russia; New Zealand; Portugal; Mexico.

Group B: Germany; Chile; Australia; Cameroon.

What stars are we expecting to see?

Well, not everyone. 

Unfortunately, Germany have decided to use the tournament as an exercise to develop their exceptional amount of young talent, leaving some of the big names on their holidays.

Still, their squad includes the likes of Julian Draxler, Timo Werner and Emre Can.

The two biggest names at the tournament will be Alexis Sanchez and Cristiano Ronaldo, who come from Chile and Portugal respectively. 

Russia will be hoping on goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev to bail them out against more stellar opponents, whilst Carlos Vela will hope to fire Mexico to an unexpected triumph. 

What can be gained from it?

Much, if you think of it positively. The tournament gives Chile, Portugal and Germany - three teams with World Cup winning ambitions next year - a chance to further improve their tournament experience against top opposition.

Russia will be hoping to put on a good show for their home fans, amid doubts that they'll be able to compete effectively at the World Cup next summer. A poor performance and optimism will potentially fade off ahead of the big show in a year.

Since the tournament was set up in 1992, it has been held nine times. Brazil are the record winners, having taken the trophy home four times. They're the current holders after beating Spain 3-0 in the 2013 final.

And video referee's...

The VAR (Video Assistant Referee) system will be used at the finals as FIFA's trial of the system continues, coming a week after it was criticised following a mix-up in protocol during a France vs England friendly in Paris.

Teams won't be able to challenge decisions, but the referee will be able to refer back to the VAR if they're in doubt over a key decision such as a penalty kick being given.

Great, where can I watch it?

ITV are the license holders in the UK for the tournament, meaning viewers won't have to have access to BT Sport or Sky in order to watch the finals.

Due to the tournament being held in Russia, kick-off times are fairly generous to European viewers, with games scheduled for 16:00 and 19:00, UK Time.

It all kick's off with Russia vs New Zealand, 4PM on Saturday!