The 2013 Confederations Cup Final, which pitted Brazil vs Spain, was many things, but one word summarizes this great final — enthralling. Not only was this game captivating to watch, but it’s venue, the Maracanã, was the perfect setting for this final. Indeed, the atmosphere was also roaring right from the start and allowed for Brazil to come out as dominant as the scoreline reflected.
On a side-note, even as Brazil were favorites coming into this match, there still were many who counted Spain as the favorites. It’s easy to see why. Spain, who are World champions and European champions, rightly deserved the support to win this game over Brazil. Additionally, it’s interesting to note that before this game, many still had not seen Brazil clicking into gear. Felipe Scolari’s progress was being made, slowly sure, but Brazil still had yet to look as a team to contend as a great force against a very strong Spain.
Well, finally, the ‘Seleção’ have finally shown they’re firing on all possible cylinders. How? Here’s how…
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Vision
Scolari’s philosophy for the match, Brazil vs Spain, was employed onto his starting eleven perfectly. Very similar to Prandelli’s (Italy’s coach) formation and philosophy during the Spain match this past week, Scolari scrutinized that match in order for success in today’s match. Prandelli went with a 3-4-2-1 formation, while Scolari used the 4-2-3-1 formation; however, as they may be different on paper, on the pitch they both play out equally. For example, Paulinho and Luis Gustavo’s presence in the CM was just as tireless as De Rossi’s and Pirlo’s against Spain. Except, with Gustavo and Paulinho, Scolari was able to utilize their youth, stamina, and defensive duties, in a much more effective manner. The two Brazilian center midfielders were closing gaps that Spain usually utilizes with ease, as they were also pressuring Iniesta and Xavi tirelessly, and most importantly, they transitioned many Brazilian counter-attacks with fluidity. Yes, Brazil functioned very similar to Italy’s performance against Spain; however, Scolari stressed to his team that they must turn their opportunities into goals, something Prandelli’s men suffered from. As a result, this was as much as Brazil’s players’ credit as much as it was Scolari’s.
Thunderous. Roaring. Deafening. All these words can describe Brazil’s true voice — the fans. The ‘Seleção’ used their grand support in their favor against Spain very well. Before the game, many doubted that the fans would be able to influence Spain’s calm natured ‘tiki-taka’ soccer. Today, the fans indeed have shown that they can influence even the best team in the world to lose concentration for large amounts of periods at a time. Brazil used their fans in the opening stages of the game to emerge as the more determined team. As Spain gained possession, Brazil quickly burst into action: the midfield was structured very disciplined, one player would pressure as another would quickly try to dispossess, and whomever didn’t have possession would anticipate Spain’s passing with quick judgement. While Brazil did this, their fans were still as loud as ever, which fueled Brazil’s confidence, and as a result led to their quickly taken first goal. While it’s easy to see how much Brazil’s fans helped, it’ll be interesting to see if they can perform with great authority without their fans. Nonetheless, this shouldn’t worry Brazil too much because next years World Cup is hosted on their soil.
High Pressing Payoff
To be able to press a team is one thing; however, to be able to continue to press high up an opposition’s half for ninety minutes is hard and indeed, risky. The Brazil vs Spain match is a great example of Scolari’s men being able to press high up Spain’s half, enough to discomfort them, while maintaining their defensive duties in the back. Hulk, Oscar, Neymar and Fred were responsible to chase the ball and dispossess Spain as fast as possible. For example, there were many instances where Iniesta and Xavi would play one-two touches and Brazil’s middle would constantly be pressuring the two, with Fred behind the play ready to help pressure as well. It was Brazil’s players’ understanding of each position that allowed for Scolari to direct his team into pressing high up Spain’s half. In moments where Fred and the midfield did not dispossess, Gustavo and Paulinho would close down gaps in the middle quickly. Brazil’s defense then responded to this quickly and tightened up, as this made it difficult for Spain to break into the final third. While Spain did continue to show that it can retain possession under heavy pressure, usually their retention of the ball was not used effectively in order to create dangerous opportunities.
Moreover, Brazil finally have shown the world they can convincingly win against big opposition. In a time of political unrest in Brazil, with many protests occurring before many of the Confederations Cup’s games, they have given their people a reason to be happy. And while that may be another discussion (Brazil’s protests), there is no doubt that their ‘Seleção’ is truly firing on all cylinders. Hats off to Brazil.