2013 Confederations Cup: Brazil are now genuine contenders

brazilBRAZIL produced a stunning performance on Sunday 30th June to win the 2013 Confederations Cup and now appear to be genuine contenders for next year’s World Cup.

A 3-0 mauling of world champions Spain, at Rio de Janeiro’s famous Maracana stadium, was one of Brazil’s finest displays of football in years and the performance really stamped their mark on world football; Brazil are back.

The atmosphere was slowly building as fans began to pour into the stadium three hours before kick-off. Fans were hoping for a glimpse of their heroes on the big screens and they were duly met as images appeared of the Brazilian team getting off the bus. The anticipation was growing as the players appeared on the screens with drums and trumpets, showing a great sense of team spirit. The images were replaced by those of the Spanish team who were immediately greeted with jeers from the already full stadium, two hours before kick-off. The Brazilian national anthem created an incredible noise and stirred the passions of the crowd; despite multiple protests across the country over the hosting of next year’s World Cup, Brazil was united.

The match got off to a flying start as Brazil snatched the lead after just two minutes. Hulk’s cross into the box from the right wing was knocked down by the brilliant Neymar to Fred, who eventually scrambled the ball home. Spain, usually so calm and controlled on the ball, were shaken.

Brazil were rapid and so fluid on the attack. They pressed Spain deep into their own half, a hallmark of their own dominance in recent times, and they were lucky to still have 11 men on the pitch after 40 minutes as first Sergio Ramos, and then Alvaro Arbeloa, brought down a Brazilian player as they were clean through on goal. To the annoyance of the Brazilian crowd, both escaped with just yellow cards.

Spain were not completely dominated by Brazil in the first half, as Andres Iniesta forced a good save from Juilo Cesar, and after great play from Jordi Alba and Fernando Torres, Pedro was put through on goal. The Barcelona forward managed to slip the ball past Cesar only to be denied by a stunning goal line clearance from David Luiz, a great piece of defensive play that highlighted how well Brazil defending throughout the game.

The defining moment came just before half time and once again after some world class defending from Brazil, they managed to hit Spain on the counter attack. The new star of Brazilian football Neymar, exchanged passes with Oscar, took one touch and fired the ball high into the Spanish net. Half time was a welcome break for Spain as they went in at 2-0 down.

The second half wasn’t any better for the world champions as just two minutes into the half they fell three behind. A quick attack from Brazil caused the Spanish defence trouble and the ball found it’s way to Fred who calmly slotted home from 18 yards. The stadium erupted with cheers as they truly believed the trophy was theirs.

Spain were more threatening in the second half but nothing was going their way. Jesus Navas was brought down in the box by Marcelo but Sergio Ramos stepped up to roll the ball wide of the goal, much to the delight of the Maracana. Spain continued to press as Julio Cesar produced two outstanding saves from Pedro late on, but it just wasn’t good enough, as Brazil went on to lift the trophy.

Under head coach Luiz Felipe Scolari, a fresh new belief and spirit has been installed into the Brazilian team and with an extremely talented group of players to choose from, Scolari’s team can be considered as one of the favourites for the World Cup. You cannot simply write off Spain on one performance however, they will still be the overwhelming favourites in Brazil next year.

Nevertheless, with incredible support for the home team, and a great sense of hostility towards the opposition, Brazil will be a forced to be reckoned with come next summer.