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Brazil vs. Spain: Confederations Cup Final Preview

Goodman Sports soccer specialist Raphael Moyeno reports:

It's the final that most people wanted to see. The number one ranked team, Spain, taking on Brazil today at 6pm in the final of the Confederations Cup. While this isn't the World Cup final, it will certainly have the intensity of one. On one side, you have the 2-time reigning European champions and reigning World Cup champs, Spain. On the other, you have the 5-time World Cup champions and tournament hosts, Brazil. Here's a recap on how each team got to this point and who the key player or players on each squad will be for this epic matchup:


The hosts started off the group stage of the tournament with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Japan, where it only took 3 minutes for Neymar to find the back of the net with this world class strike from just outside of the box. The 21-year-old continued to work his magic in the next match against Mexico where he would tally another great goal in Brazil's 2-0 victory. He also picked up an assist after a nifty move to dribble in between two Mexican defenders before setting up his teammate, Jo, for the easy tap in (see the move here along with a slo-mo replay with some creepy robotic sounds). In the final game of the group stage, Brazil faced their toughest challenge yet, 2006 World Cup champions, Italy. The men in yellow would come away with a 4-2 victory in a physical game that saw 5 goals scored in the second half including yet another superb goal from, you guessed it, Neymar. Following the group stage came the semifinals, and the team that stood in the way of a trip to the finals was Uruguay. No goals from Neymar in this one, but he still made an impact as Brazil got the win 2-1. The tiebreaking goal game in the 86th minute off of a corner kick delivered in by Neymar and headed in by Paulinho.

Key Player: It's Neymar, plain and simple. He has been outstanding in the tournament so far and he must perform just as well in the final in order to beat Spain. He scored in all 3 games of the group stage and each goal gave his team the lead. He provided the cross for the game winning goal against Uruguay in the semis, so even when he didn't score, he made the difference. With his 3 goals and 2 assists and Brazil's total of 11 goals in the tournament, Neymar has been involved in 45% of the goals scored by the team. He is the key to Brazil winning the final.


The reigning champs began their group stage against Uruguay, picking up a 2-1 win in a game that wasn't as close as the final score made it seem as Spain dominated with 75% of the possession. Up next in the group stage was Tahiti, a team that consisted of mostly semi-professional players and is 135th in the FIFA rankings. The result was what many people expected, a 10-0 demolition by Spain with the potential to have been an even more lopsided score. Fernando Torres scored four goals and missed the chance to score a fifth when his penalty kick banged off the crossbar late in the game. David Villa scored a hat trick with David Silva and Juan Mata scoring the other 2 goals. With a 10-goal gap between the two teams, this was the most lopsided game in Confederations Cup history (the previous record being a six goal differential). After that extremely easy fixture, the Spanish giants would take on Nigeria in the final game of the group stage. Although the game ended 3-0 in favor of Spain, it was an unconvincing performance as the result could have been much closer if Nigeria had been able to convert the many chances they had throughout the game. Advancing through the group stage, La Roja would square off against Italy in the semifinals. It was a close battle throughout the game, with neither team able to find a goal after 90 minutes. The best chances came in extra time with both sides hitting the post, but still unable to score. It took penalties to decide the winner, with neither team missing after each of their first six attempts. Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci stepped up to the spot and fired attempt number seven well over the crossbar, giving Spain the chance to win it, and midfielder Jesus Navas converted his penalty to give them the 7-6 victory in the penalty shootout (If you want to see the entire shootout click here).

Key Player(s): Andrés Iniesta and Xavi are the centerpieces of the short passing and possession style that Spain likes to play. The Barcelona duo will be the ones keeping possession in the midfield and making the key passes that lead to scoring opportunities for the strikers. The two players have been relatively quiet in the tournament with no goals and only one assist between them, but if they play well in the final, then it will be a long game for Brazil trying to get the ball from their feet.

Prediction: While Brazil is the home team and Neymar has been nothing short of phenomenal in the tournament, they are still the underdog in this matchup and I can't see Spain losing to any team when they play at the top of their game. However, if Spain doesn't bring their "A" game to this final, then Brazil definitely has a shot to win, especially if they play as well as they have been playing in the tournament. I think the game is going to be exciting to watch, with chances for both sides and will end 2-1 in favor of Spain, but it could go either way. Who knows, the winner might not be decided after 90 minutes.  All I know is that I'm not missing this game and hopefully it lives up to all the hype.