Brazil have reached the final of the Confederations Cup for the third consecutive time. Some would say that they have exceeded expectations given the poor run up to the tournament but given the performances they have delivered in the tournament, anything less than a triumph will be an underachievement.
The tournament has been surrounded by protests that have threatened to sabotage the success of the event but the footballing success that the national team has achieved has allayed some of the nerves of the authorities in power. FIFA President Sepp Blatter sounded rather pleased with the organisation of the event and termed this year’s edition as the “best organised”.
It will be remembered as a popular tournament for the country if Brazil defeat Spain at the Maracana on Sunday. Spain were not particularly impressive against Italy in the semi-finals and that augurs well for the Selecao. They suffered against the tactical organisation of Italy and were the lesser team for most part of the match. On the other hand, Brazil have some flaws of their own that they need to weed out of their system. Luiz Felipe Scolari has fostered some great team spirit in this side and that reflects on the pitch. It was one of the key features of their 2002 world cup win and Scolari has tried to replicate that.
Here is a list of five reasons why Brazil will win the tournament by defeating Spain on Sunday:
5. Felipe Scolari
It was clear that Cesare Prandelli won the tactical battle against Del Bosque in the semi-final and if not for some wasteful shooting in front of the goal, matters could have been very different. Del Bosque has already begun playing some mind games as he tipped Brazil to be the favorites ahead of the clash. He said, “Brazil are the favourites. They have five World Cups, three Confederations Cups; we’re going to be facing them at the Maracana and we’re excited to do so.” Bosque will make some corrections to his team for the match on Sunday especially guarding against the threat Brazil will pose on the flanks. Scolari would have made his own notes on Spain’s performance in the game against Italy. He is likely to throw a heavy challenge to the World Champions.
Spain played 120 minutes of exhausting football against Italy and will get one day less to rehabilitate as compared to Brazil. Spain’s midfield was ineffective against Italy in the first 90 minutes and one fears that that might be the case at the Maracana. Spain are usually very patient while they build their offence against rigid opponents but they broke down too easily against Italy. They were caught on the counter many times and Mario Balotelli’s absence hurt Italy.
Brazil’s forwards have worn their scoring boots throughout the tournament. They have opened the scoring early in most of their games and another such performance against Spain will tilt the game in their favour. On the other hand, the longer the game is goalless the better it gets for Spain. They held their nerve against Netherlands in the World Cup final and will be backing themselves to do the same against the Selecao.
Also, Brazil striker Fred has silenced his critics with three goals in the last two matches. With their strikers in form, Brazil will only need half a chance to spring a rude surprise for the world champions.
2. The Full-Backs
Italy caught Spain on the flanks and Brazil will be looking to do the same. Del Bosque highlighted that threat ahead of the game, saying: “Dani Alves and Marcelo are great. They’re able to influence a game.”
Marcelo and Dani Alves know every bit of Spanish football and they will execute Scolari’s plans to perfection. They can provide that extra bit of pace on the wing. Jordi Alba has been consistent in this tournament but he had a hard time against Italy, whereas Arbelao has been suspect throughout the competition. It is possible that the battle is won and lost in this mini-battle.
The poster boy of Brazilian football will play a crucial part in this game. He has driven the Selecao in this competition with his goal-scoring ability and flair when playing in the middle of the pitch. In many ways, he has lifted the side to greater heights with his inspirational displays, and he would be the biggest reason why Brazil can win this match. Most of his critics who undermined his performances against Japan and Mexico argued that his real test would come at the business end of the competition against high-quality oppositions. Italy and Uruguay tried their best to quell the threat that he poses but he was still able to make match winning contributions in those games. He can truly monopolize the spotlight in the final.