Crossroads

A look back at the 2013 Confederations Cup in Brazil

Not many would disagree that the 2013 Confederations Cup exceeded all expectations and more. Since it started being a competition held every four years, it has grown on the footballing public in a big way. It feels that after this year’s contest, I doubt there will be many teams who will decline the invitation next time around. Admittedly, having Brazil as the host and Italy getting a place due to Spain’s dominance, we were spoilt in terms of quality. All the teams were used to winning, and even the tiny footballing nation of Tahiti stole the public’s heart with their determination and hard work. Not only has this cup become a great warm-up for the hosts to test their World Cup credentials, but fans can also use the tournament as a litmus test to see what state their teams are in. For the neutral, it was simply great television.

But it was the Brazilian public that ensured we witnessed a true competition. Despite the turmoil just around the corner of the stadium, the crowd encouraged fast, flowing football by keeping the tempo and applauding great skill. Their jeering of the world champions was as much out of frustration at their style, as it was out of slight envy. This passion for football culminated in that unforgettable moment during the Brazilian anthem when the music stopped, and a war-cry rang out as the team and crowd sang together, the country becoming one in a heartbeat. Who could doubt that the Spanish were shaken by this show of solidarity? It would, and did, humble the greatest of them all.

Perhaps then, the 2013 Confederations Cup will be remembered for the turning of the tides in football. If Spain were made to look human against the Italians, they were made to look bad in the final against the relentless and dynamic Brazilians. Watching Alan Hansen wrongly predict Brazil’s form brought joy to everybody’s heart, topped only by the justice done by seeing the fans’ favourites completely outplay the Spanish. Neymar smashed in another great goal, and despite Fred’s consistency in finding the net, it is hard to imagine a Brazilian team lifting the World Cup without the boy wonder leading the attack.Spain's Iniesta and Pedro sit on the field after losing their Confederations Cup final soccer match to Brazil at the Estadio Maracana in Rio de Janeiro

But we must be very careful to assume this is definitely a turning point. Not only must we remember that this was still the Confederations Cup and not the World Cup, but must also see the white elephant in the room; Spain were poor. We can therefore only really see a possible changing of the torch, when Spain are beaten whilst playing at their best. Because despite the result, the truth is when Spain are passing quickly and accurately, even a resurgent Brazil might be chasing their tails. But I guess that is definitely the hot debate right now. Either way, we will only really know who is on top of the world when the deserving team lifts the cup in 2014.

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