Brazil annihilated current world champions Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final and sent out a clear message to the world. The message; “the giant has been awoken!”
After only 2 minutes of the game Spain’s game plan was out the window. Fred opened the scoring whilst still planted on the ground scooping the ball over helpless keeper Iker Casillas. That moment of positioning and calmness from only 5 yards was opportunist’s goal and a real number 9’s goal.
Spain did not settle. Or rather Brazil in defensive formation battled and closed and pushed the Spanish attacks into their own half. Like an electric shock to start the heart of Spain, FC Barcelona’s Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta in midfield tried to revive the deficient team. If only it was that easy. The final pass was cut out everytime and caused frustration.
There was some fantastic passing in tight spaces, but Brazil’s Paulinho and Luis Gustavo cleaned up the opposition attacks and swiftly set off Hulk and Neymar to attack constantly and it looked like it would be them, the home team that would score next.
Brazil was irrepressible. A clever Paulinho chip was saved on the line by Casillas; Neymar was bundled over by last man Alvaro Arbeloa on a run from inside his own half. The distance from goal and an overplayed through-ball the only thing saving the Spaniard from red seeing a yellow; A fine pass from Neymar to Fred for a one-on-one was saved again by Casillas; then Neymar was taken down by Sergio Ramos in what would have been a goal scoring opportunity and Ramos was the last man. Yellow was given and the ensuing free kick was blazed over from Hulk.
As many games go, if the attacking team does not take their chances they get hit on the break and the opportunity fell to Pedro of Barcelona. The Brazilians had pressed Spain to the right of their own goals and not picked up the fine run of the number 11. As Julio Cesar was beaten by the measured curl to the bottom corner, the retreating David Luiz flung himself towards the ball deflecting it somehow over the bar. That was the opportunity and the Spanish nation knew it.
Moments later Neymar nailed a power-drive on his non-preferred foot over Casillas to the roof of the net to make it 2 nil. The heart of Spain had been ripped out. It was a lesson for young players about movement and beating the offside. It was simply brilliant.
It went to half time that way and despite 45 minutes to play the world was on the brink of seeing what they had forgotten. A magnificent team, the samba stars reborn in this day of power and athleticism. Somehow we were not conditioned to seeing them dominate any longer. But you cannot keep a good team down, especially one that has won the World Cup 5 times.
The second half was off. In the same amount of time as the first half, it was again Fred who tucked in his second and Brazil’s third. A piece of striking master class set up by good work from Paulinho and Oscar and a fine dummy from Neymar took away the defenders and the ball ran to Fred who measured his side-foot into the corner of the goal across the keeper. This again is a coaching point and for the young players to learn from.
Was that the end of Spain? Substitutions were made. A penalty was awarded (and missed by Ramos) and some attacks with purpose were made. Too few and too far between really, and the Brazilian midfield took over.
Some may say the Spanish team was tired or that they needed a rest, but there were 22 players on the field and most of them went through long difficult seasons.
The tiki-taka that we’ve come to know from Barcelona, the same team as 7 players on the park for Spain were getting their own treatment. This type of football from Brazil has been forgotten, but is what they are capable of.
Attacks kept coming from Brazil and Neymar skinned the Spanish defence again this time to be taken down by last man and future team-mate Gerard Pique as he closed in on goal. A red card was awarded, and at that point it was clear that there would be no miracles in Rio on this day for Spain.
The free kick was played over by Neymar. The rest of the game flowed as much of the second half. Brazil took pity on a great team that had a bad night. Respectful, as others may not have taken the same pity and embarrassed them.
That’s how it ended. Brazil won their third consecutive FIFA Confederations Cup. They will have much work to do to get a squad of players in top shape ready to win their sixth World Cup. Spain will be back again to prove one bad game does not make them a bad team.
For all of the fans and football lovers it will be a fascinating club season that will see Neymar, Paulinho and other Brazilian stars ply their trade in Europe and get to even scarier form for 2014.
Rio de Janeiro and the most famous of all stadiums the Maracana were in fine form jeering the opposition at every possession and cheering their team when they kept the ball. They perhaps were the ones that woke the sleeping giant.