When two unbeaten teams take on each other in Confederation Cup Final, there are a lot of things at stake. The most powerful side in recent years takes on the biggest team in the history of the game. Defending World Champions and Euro Cup winners Spain could have been the favourites at any other place in the World. But this is Brazil! The Samba Boys will be gearing to tear up the Spaniards in the world famous Maracana Stadium. Brazil need to forget the Maracanazo with a win against all conquering Spanish side and that will uplift Neymar and co. to lead the charge.
We analyze the 3 battles that are expected to decide the outcome of this final. Remember Confederation Cup winners haven’t won the World Cup in the following year till now!
Neymar v Arbeloa
Brazilian sensation Neymar, is carrying the expectations of the whole world on his shoulders when he steps out in his first major finals in an International event. It will be a test of his abilities on one of the biggest stages. The new Barcelona boy will see his movements closely tracked and observed by the Real Madrid full back Alvaro Arbeloa. Neymar is a treat to watch on his day with typical Brazilian guile, flair and skills making him almost unplayable on some occasions. If he gets into groove, he will dance past the opponents at his will and then it will become very difficult for anyone to mark him out of the game. Arbeloa can be targeted as a weak link in the Spanish defense. In the match against Italy, it was apparent that their opponent fielded a lop-sided attack in order to contain and push back Jordi Alba, as they weren’t too concerned about Arbeloa’s attacking threat. The fact that the Real Madrid right back’s lack of quality while bombing forward means Neymar won’t be too concerned about tracking back and helping out Marcelo defensively. Also while on attack, how well or poorly Arbeloa handles Neymar, Brazil’s biggest attacking threat, can have a big say in the outcome in this match.
Xavi v Paulinho
Spanish tiki-taka relies heavily on the Barcelona playmaker Xavi Hernandez. He is the Lynchpin and the heartbeat of Spanish dominance. The Barcelona playmaker will come up against Brazilian box-to-box midfielder Paulinho who rose into prominence with superb displays one after the other. The combination of Xavi-Iniesta is the main reason behind Spanish and Barcelona dominance over the years. Xavi is taking the field in the aftermath of a grueling 120 minute display against the Italians. Spanish orchestrator is nearing the mid-thirties and the Brazilian will be looking to make the best use of the tired legs. Paulinho on the other hand is the schemer of new Brazilian style of play. The Box-to-Box midfielder carries the team from the back to the opposition box. He is an underrated player, but his ability to rise to the occasion is phenomenal. Paulinho’s performances in FIFA Club World Cup final was purely inspirational. Neymar might have taken the plaudits, but he is the unsung hero in the Brazilian national team. His vision for the opener in Semifinals and the winning goal when time was running out, shows his ability to step up to the occasion. When Xavi and Paulinho takes on the field in final, it will be interesting to see how the things unfold. Paulinho will have the tough task of breaking the Spanish tiki-taka by mirroring Xavi, while Xavi’s duty will also include preventing the Brazilian from making vital contribution with his well timed runs.
Iniesta v Dani Alves
Barcelona team mates will come in each other’s way between the cup and glory. Iniesta even when surrounded by a bunch of players has the ability to pick the right pass to open up opposition defence. On the other hand, Dani Alves likes to venture forward whenever there is a chance to maraud into the other side of the pitch. Tracking Alves is almost impossible as he has the lungs to run all day along. Iniesta might know this better than anyone as the Brazilian covers the entire right hand side in Barcelona games. The right back sometimes is over-confident and starts to play as a winger leaving space behind. That will be suicidal against a player of Iniesta’s caliber. Iniesta is a magician with the ball and his creative vision and slick passing is second to none. Iniesta also has the knack of scoring vital goals in big matches. Will it be his day at the Maracana? Can Dani Alves get the better of him to score a sensational goal on the other side of the pitch?
The finals is just hours away and Maracana will be a yellow sea from the start. Can the Spaniards produce their tiki-taka in an intimidating atmosphere? Can the Brazilians stop the Spanish juggernaut in front of a vociferous crowd? The match is surely going to produce one of the best entertainments for the football lovers across the world. The players aren’t burdened with the weight of expectations of the World Cup. It’s a dress rehearsal for the mega event coming next summer. Brazil V Spain is going to be an entertainer for sure. Who manages to have the last laugh in these battles remains to be seen.