We all predicted it, and I’m going to guess that deep inside all neutrals wanted it to happen. I’m talking about the final of the Confederations cup. It’s La Furia Roja vs The Selecao, it’s Spain vs Brazil.
Spain are the current two time European champions and the defending World champions. Without a shadow of a doubt this is the best football team right now. Perhaps when all is said and done we will view this generation of Spanish footballers as the greatest team ever assembled. They play with a composure and precision that breaks the confidence of their opponents. They play one way and no matter what has been attempted no one has been able to stop them when it really matters.
Brazil are a totally different entity to Spain. The composure and precision of Spain is thrown totally out the window. This is a team that plays with reckless abandon and rightfully so. At times there is a lack of game plan and a reliance on individual brilliance. When a country has produced as many brilliant individuals as Brazil has, you can understand it. Brazilian fans demand free flowing, attacking football devoid of the calculated Spanish Tiki-Taka. Almost every sideways Spanish pass has been booed by the locals at the confederations cup.
Perhaps there is a sense of jealousy within the Brazilian contingent. Brazil were for decades seen as the team to beat in world football. Now they find themselves ranked 22nd in the FIFA rankings. Basically, Spain has stolen Brazil’s shine and it infuriates the local population beyond belief. The animosity towards the Spanish is also a result of a clash in footballing cultures.
Take a look at the players on the Spanish team: Xavi, Iniesta, Juan Mata, Cesc Faregas, David Silva, Sergio Busquets and the list goes on. These men have great control over the football but take even greater pride in their ability to pass the ball with beauty and precision.
The Selecao however do not concern themselves with this accuracy and focus on passing. Yes, they respect it and many would love to dominate possession as the Spanish do but inherently this is not the Brazilian way. In Brazil imperfection is beauty. Just look at this move from Pele, he actually doesn’t score, but his sensational dummy to beat the keeper is still talked about today as if he had.
Freedom of expression on the pitch is what matters most to Brazilian football fans. They play the way they dance; Brazilians rock, sway and jump. They samba. The spanish have Flamenco, an expressive dance that lives within its rules and structure.
Looking at the current players on the Brazil team you get a feel for what I mean. Neymar, Hulk, Oscar, Lucas Moura, Dani Alves, Marcelo and so on. If I were to pick who I would party with based on their footballing ability I’d hang out with the Brazilians, they would be a great deal of fun. With this focus on expression there comes unpredictability.
This is what the tie will hinge on. Everyone knows exactly how Spain will set up and exactly what they are going to do. With Brazil on the otherhand, you have no idea what to expect from them and I don’t think the Brazilians know themselves. This could very well play into Brazil’s hands. Spain have no idea what to expect from this match, they walk into it uncertain of how to defend against Brazil. They will do their normal routine, but when Brazil get the ball they will not know what Neymar will do, what Hulk will do or what Oscar might do with it. Brazil are like that crazy person you see on the street, you feel like you can take him in a fight but when he starts yelling and throwing things you might get hurt or he might just hurt himself.
If I were a betting man I would put my money on Brazil here. Playing in front of their home crowd will boost them. It will help them utilize their natural ability to achieve a suitable end product. It should help them create controlled chaos which I think will see them through. However, time and time again I’ve counted out the Spanish and they have shown me the err of my ways. You count out Spain at your own peril, but maybe I feel like living a little dangerously today.