It may be just a warmup to the World Cup, but with silverware on the line things always heat up. Hot it will be at 6pm ET when Brazil take on Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup.
Brazil will look to take a few steps forward in front of their home crowd in preparation for the World Cup, and manager Luiz Felipe Scolari knows the home field advantage inside the Maracana will be important.
So much so, that Scolari has called upon his team to use their “soul” to “overcome, equalize and pass ahead of all of it [Spain] have.”
“They have had continuity in their team in the last six years, only changing just one or two players every now and then” said Scolari. “So they have some advantages over us, but we have something that is important inside Brazil and that is to get the credibility back with all our supporters.”
For Brazil, this match is about the beginning of redemption. Their manager chose his words well when he said the team is looking to regain credibility. Having fallen well short of expectations in two consecutive World Cups, the Seleção can regain the confidence of their fans with a win against the world’s highest-ranked country.
The Brazilians know it’s no World Cup, but with one on the way in their backyard, a win in this final could provide the keystone to reconstructing the bridge to World glory.
Neymar will be looking to get back on the score sheet, having netted in all three group matches but failed to find a score in the semifinal win over Uruguay. Brazil weren’t at their best in that match, but the build-up play was just enough. They’ll need him, as the Spaniards have conceded just a single goal so far in the tournament.
For Spain, this match is all about pride. They don’t need the silverware, they don’t need the media attention, and they certainly don’t need the praise.
What they don’t need is a loss.
While defeat wouldn’t really hurt them that much, a win would maintain the status quo, while a loss would break it down a bit. They came close in their semifinal with Italy, absorbing much pressure until deciding to rev the engine in extra time. They advanced on penalties, but it wasn’t pretty.
In addition, Italy taking Spain to extra time and penalties gives an immediate advantage to Brazil. The hosts already had a day of extra rest before the big game, and now they’ve played 30 fewer minutes and had to endure 1 less nerve-wracking penalty shootout. If Spain show any signs of weakness, this will be the first excuse fans will point towards.
For Spain, Xavi is injured, and reports are that Javi Martinez could come in to replace him. Cesc Fabregas is also reportedly coming into the lineup for Fernando Torres in a false 9 position that quite possibly won them the World Cup three years ago.
With Vincente del Bosque possibly busting out the false 9, it means Spain are certainly not taking this match lightly and are also looking to get into a full-effort mentality.
I think Neymar was right in saying “It’s the match everyone wanted to happen.” With Brazil 2014 just a year away, things are getting serious, and that in turn makes them a whole lot of fun.