Having been so comprehensively beaten on Sunday night, it could be suggested that the Kings of world football had been dethroned, but in truth the process begun months ago. Since Barcelona and Real Madrid suffered astonishing defeats by German sides in the Champions League, the Spanish style of play has been countered by intuitive tactics and a physical edge. A Spanish loss had been long overdue and La Roja could easily have been defeated by Italy – but that shouldn’t take anything away from Brazil’s performance. Many teams in the past have caused problems but very few have actually beaten or matched Spain in every department. It can be argued that Spain are no longer the team to beat but they remain a very dominant side nonetheless and this defeat could work out as a timely one and strengthen them in the run-up to next year.
En route to winning the European championships and World Cup, Spain had to beat teams such as Germany, Portugal, Italy, Netherlands and France, and they were fancied to beat a far-from classic Brazil side. That was until they factored in the partisan support Brazil had as their secret weapon. The noise generated from the national anthem was totemic and that increased when Brazil struck so early on. From that point Spain were battling 12 men and had yet to experience anything like that in previous tournaments and the fans carried their team on a crescendo of noise all the way to the end. Next year that wall of sound will intensify and make playing Brazil one of the most testing challenges, as it once was.
The flair and style of yesteryear usually associated with Brazilian teams is less visible than it used to be but in its place is a compromise of different footballing attributes which helped Brazil to their Confederations Cup win. David Luiz, Gustavo, Hulk, Thiago Silva and Fred form a nucleus of power and strength whilst in and around them are stylish ball players such as Oscar, Neymar, Marcelo and Dani Alves, creating a real mix of ability. Whereas Spain prefer to play a certain way, the diversity of Brazil’s squad allows them to vary up their type of play depending on their opposition. They have evolved during the last decade since their former greats departed from the scene and Spain have remained with their philosophies and become a tad stale. Luis Filipe Scolari should be given great credit for integrating so many different players into the team and it has paid off wonderfully.
Expectations were already sky-high but having whipped the current world champions so comfortably, nothing but success next year will suffice for Brazil’s football-crazy supporters. The young side have developed enormously since the opening game and revelled in the pro-Selecao atmospheres. Players such as Neymar, Oscar and Luiz can only progress and learn more ahead of next year as the squad shapes up as one of the front-runners to claim the Fifa World Cup trophy. The pressure to win the Confederations Cup was minimal compared to what the team will face next year and the youthful side have to be able to deal with the mammoth expectations in a years time.
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