Brazil are all set to face reigning European and World Champions Spain, this evening, as the Confederations Cup reaches its finale.
Both teams are yet to lose a game during this year’s tournament and the quality possessed by each side will result in a mouth-watering tie at the Estadio do Maracana.
This is the match all fans wished to see – pitting the current best international side in the world, against the best international side in the footballing history.
The Road to the Final
Brazil were consistently dominant in each of their matches throughout their previous fixtures. The team’s undefeated run through the tournament started with a commanding 3-0 victory over Japan. From there, Brazil topped Mexico by a score of 2-0 and then took down Italy 4-2 to complete group play. The squad advanced to the final with a 2-1 victory over Uruguay.
The Brazilian defense has been outstanding thus far, only allowing three total goals entering the final against Spain. The offense hasn’t had much trouble either, scoring 11 times in 4 fixtures. Neymar and Fred have each scored three goals, while Paulinho and Jo have two apiece.
Meanwhile, Spain played well throughout their opening fixture against Uruguay, but a late goal by Luis Suarez nearly brought the South Americans back into the match. Spain would eventually hang on for the victory. The squad then destroyed the struggling Tahitians with a commanding 10-0 win. The Spaniards made it three wins in a row with a 3-0 victory over Nigeria.
The semi-final proved a tough task for Spain, as the team couldn’t capitalize on any of its chances throughout regulation. Luckily, the Italians failed to score and the final result was decided by penalty kicks.
Fernando Torres is the leading scorer in the tournament, but keep in mind that four of his five goals came against Tahiti.
Brazil have no injury worries and are expected to field the same team that beat Uruguay for Sunday’s final against Spain.
Selecao boss Luiz Felipe Scolari has named the same starting XI in three of his side’s four matches and is unlikely to make changes, although out-of-form striker Hulk’s place may come under threat.
Spain have no injuries to report and are at full strength for the Maracana clash.
Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado have shaken off muscle injuries and could return to the side after sitting out the penalty shoot-out victory over Italy.
Tonight’s final is something of a farewell for Brazil’s talisman, as he prepares to leave behind his homeland for the heady heights of Barcelona. Neymar’s blistering pace is sure to be a threat to the all-conquering Spanish, and he will hope to further enhance his stock by delivering a match-winning performance.
The 29-year-old playmaker is Spain’s man for the big occasion, having scored the winner against Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final. Brazil will be wary of Iniesta’s link-up play with the marauding Jordi Alba on the left flank – a particularly potent source of Spain’s attacking thrust.
A win in Sunday’s final will make Brazil the first team to win three successive Confederations Cup titles. They currently are leveled with France – who won back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2003.
On the other hand, Spain are unbeaten in 29 competitive games with 24 wins and five draws since their 1-0 defeat to Switzerland during the 2010 World Cup.
The hosts boast an edge in the head-to-head clashes against Spain, having won on four out of eight occasions with two losses and two draws. Spain, meanwhile, have managed two wins while they have suffered four losses alongside two draw
By now I’ve learned to not bet against Spain when it comes to achieving results in international tournaments. Both sides have shown fleeting moments of brilliance in the run up to the final without being overly impressive. However, Del Bosque’s men will edge this match with their intricate passing game and flair.
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