Brazil vs Spain: A tactical preview of the Confederations Cup 2013 Final
We bring to you tactical analysis of both the teams competing in the summit clash at Rio de Janeiro today.
Given some of the personnel surprises with both Confederation Cup finalists, there’s a decent amount of conjecture ahead of todays match as to who will play, less so about how the two teams will attempt to play. An obvious storyline will be Neymar’s effect on the game, especially as his opponents will be his future La Liga friends and foes. Now that Brazil has avoided an early exit, a less-apprehensive crowd could prove to be a significant factor, buoying the hosts.
Moving away from the double pivot of Busquets and Alonso as the holders has been somewhat of a surprise for Del Bosque’s side, but with their multi-generational glut of attacking midfielders, there is some explanation for a player of Xavi Alonso’s caliber being excluded.
Spain’s back line of (from left) Alba, Pique, Ramos & Arbeloa will remain unchanged, as will their already classic midfield trio of Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta. Up front it’s anyone’s guess. Jesus Navas had a a good spell against Italy, and Torres has had a better tournament then Soldado and should have earned his starting spot, but Del Bosque has a plethora of false-nines at his disposal: Mata, Silva, Fabregas and even, improbably, Cazorla. Then again, it’s anyone’s guess as defensive midfielder Javi Martinez has seen time as a #9, while former shoe-in David Villa has yet too see action.
Besides the surging protests, the other subplot of the tournament for Brazil has been the omissions. While some of the bigger names such as Kaka, Robinho and Ronaldinho are perhaps understandably left by the wayside, and Rafael’s omission is justified given that Scolari surely planned to play Marcelo and Dani Alves as his wing-backs for the entire tournament (a no-brainer tandem that for whatever reason has only recently been actualized), Ramires seems too good a player to be left aside even given their other strong #5 options.
The other, potentially tragic exclusion will most likely be Dante, who has sat in favour of the mercurial David Luiz. While there’s no precedent for it on the national team, it would be interesting to see David Luiz move up alongside Paulinho as a double pivot as he is sometimes moved up next to Ramires at Chelsea, but this is both unlikely and unfortunate for Brazil, who will most likely rely heavily on an inconsistent Oscar in the center of the pitch against the world’s best midfield duo.
Another point of interest is whether Scolari may turn to Lucas Moura instead of the lackluster Hulk.
Spain’s incredible depth is a huge advantage — they’ve leaned on time and time again in major tournaments when they’ve been exhausted. While they certainly looked bedraggled in over-time against Italy, highly able replacements are available.
Another consideration is Brazil’s potential protagonist. On the cusp of a long-awaited move to La Liga a year before he is expected to (by Brazilians) lead his country into World Cup history, there is mounting pressure on Neymar. His response to it is crucial to this contest, and may well be a harbinger for his young career.
Lastly, it cannot be overlooked that between Scolari and Del Bosque, there maybe four of Europe’s best performers this season watching, either from home or waiting to see if their number is called. One could certainly imagine Dante, Ramires, Mata and Javi Martinez making the difference for Brazil or Spain, respectively, in this contest, given that all have experience in such high stakes affairs, but it is possible none will see action.
Not much conjecture here. Brazil will look to their talent on the wings and Spain will look to play through the middle. It would be surprising if Spain doesn’t return to higher pressing, with Brazil perhaps aping some of Italy’s pressure as it seemed to keep Spain from putting the semi-final match in their hallmark headlock.