Tag Archives: Brazil

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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Neymarvellous!!!

Only a handful of matches have been played in this year’s Confederations cup, but we have already been spoilt rotten. We have been treated to some excellent displays of skill from Brazil’s rising star, some inspiring team performances and more importantly a glimpse at the sort of atmosphere we can all expect at the World Cup next year. I am writing this after staying up late watching Japan and Italy in an absolute thriller that ended 4-3 to the Azzurri.

Although slightly weary from the lack of sleep, I cannot stop thinking about how excellent Japan were during most of the match. Not only did they show excellent team spirit and the ability to keep possession, but their refreshing honesty regarding fouls and diving was just a part of their overall commendable attitude. Yes they did lose, but they can take solace in the performance and if they improve again as they did between group games, then they can go to next year’s tournament with a real chance to get to the knock-out stages. Or perhaps even further.

Not only has this tournament dispelled fears that the teams involved would treat it as a run of glorified friendlies, but it has also been the first opportunity to showcase goal line technology, albeit it has been unnecessary so far. But this just highlights the unobtrusiveness of its introduction in the first place and begs the question: “What was all the fuss about?”. There has of course been one more shining light during the 2013 Confederations cup so far, and that is Brazil’s most recent rising star, Neymar Jr. This tournament was the chance for the world to see what Barcelona paid such large amounts of money for, and he has not disappointed. A great goal and some sublime skill to set up the second against Mexico, describes just part of his performance. This also dispels those claims that he was overrated after an ineffective performance against England. If you factor in the classy performance from Spain in their opening game, it could really be effectively argued how utterly uninformative the good recent results against the two aforementioned teams were for England.

This leads on nicely to my last point regarding this tournament. Don’t worry, I am not going to digress into an argument about England. The bloggesphere has already done a good enough job for me. It is also a minefield of debate. Ranging from tactics and formations to grass roots and coaching. All I will say is that the performances of Japan and company should be a lesson to the England team in how the simple things such as a consistent team spirit, hard work and ambition can be much more telling in a result than a formation change. I only say this because when there are those five or ten minute spells when England players remember how to play (and some of them can, I am positive of that), I see glimpses of what is possible. Who knows, perhaps in four years we will all be talking about a good Confederations Cup performance from England. Although I seriously doubt it.