Monday, July 01, 2013

Brazil win the Confederations Cup...oh well

The Confederations Cup, yes it is a sanctioned FIFA tournament and yes you actually get a real trophy if you win it (Les Bleus have won it twice!). However what does it really mean...a whole bunch of nothing. It has become an opportunity for the following year's World Cup host to get a dry run for hosting a tournament. For that it makes a lot of sense. Otherwise it is really just a glorified series of friendly matches. This version was no different, so let us not make too much of the "dismantling" of Spain by host Brazil.

The game ended with a 3-0 beating of the Spaniards by the Brazilians. There are voices that are already saying Brazil is back, they are the odds on favorites to win the World Cup...yaddy yaddy yadda. Let us pump the brakes on the win last night. There are some things to take away from the game:

  • Spain can be rattled if pressed high on the pitch. Okay easier said than done. Brazil demonstrated what can happen if Spain is not given the space and time to work their short pass game. Of course Brazil almost got burned a few times, notably when Luiz had to save on the line after Pedro sprang up on the right side on one of the few Spanish break outs. Brazil forced Spain very deep into their end of the pitch, at times seeing the play having to be initiated by the feet of Spanish keeper Casillas. The Brazilian out side backs also jumped the play at every occasion. Clearly not every team in the world can do this to Spain, but Brazil demonstrated that if you have the ability, muscle and speed you can press Spain. Again, easier said than done.
  • Spain needs a striker....Can we finally agree that Torres seems to be done...or at least is a shadow of the striker he was for Athletico and Liverpool? Playing a false 9 would not have done any good either. Spain needs to figure out who can be a true #9 a player, like a Drogba, who when you are being pressed can receive the ball, hold it against defensive pressure and allow your team to reorganize. A striker who can also find ways to create space and goals on his own. I heard a great discussion this morning equating this to Barcelona (the club most similar to the Spain style) and how Barca, when it trouble, can just turn to Messi and he will find a way. Spain lost out on Messi, but they have some options. Could an inform Villa be the option? Or maybe Llorente? I would vote for the Juventus bound striker - big man who can hold the ball up and can be a "fox in the box." Sometimes you need to win the games ugly.
  • Don't get too over confident in Brazil. Brazil won. Brazil rolled out a very entertaining line up, putting out there Neymar, Fred, Hulk and Oscar...add to that the "striker" Alves who plays right back and even Luiz who sometimes fancies himself as Zico and you have the potentially for a very attacking minded squad. But can that survive when the games really count? Add to this the perfect storm for Brazil. Playing at home in front of 100,000 fans after Spain had to get through an extra time match against Italy etc etc. Brazil will not play a competitive match again until the World Cup kicks off. I am not convinced that defensively the Brazilians can hold up when the pressure really mounts. Much will be asked of their defensive midfielders and center well as goalkeeper (remember he is the one who played for QPR). Brazil put 3 past the defending World Cup and European Cup champions, good for them. But a year is a long time...don't forget that 4 years ago in the Confed Cup in South Africa, Spain lost in the semi finals to the US and Brazil won the title...need I remind you who has won two real titles since then?
It was a nice little tournament, but one that comes at the end of a long season for the players. The big nations involved - Spain, Uruguay, Brazil, Italy, Nigeria and Mexico all have things they can build on and work on. But none should read too much into this dry run, good or bad.

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