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Fred, Neymar lead rout of Spain, claim Brazil’s third straight Confederations Cup

Jun 30, 2013, 7:50 PM EDT

FBL-WC2014-CONFED-BRA-ESP Getty Images

From a tournament that began with doubts, Brazil have claimed silverware, handing Spain their most embarrassing loss since the Furia Roja were recognized as the world’s preeminent soccer power. With two goals from Fred and another from Neymar, the Confederations Cup hosts handed the world champions a 3-0 telling loss, one that not only casts doubts on the state of Spain’s hegemony but also announces Brazil as a legitimate contender for next year’s World Cup.

That status looked out of reach two weeks ago, before FIFA’s quadrennial World Cup warmup started. Brazil had recently changed coaches, going back to Luiz Felipe Scolari after the mixed results of the Mano Menezes era. The result was an untested team still looking for an identity; a team that was still thought to be a step behind Spain and the world’s other elites.

Yet any suspicion this would be a typical Spain match was dispelled when Brazil took a shock lead in the second minute, a defensive breakdown allowing Fred to open the scoring while face-down in Iker Casillas’s six-yard box. A looped cross from Brazil’s right fell between defenders Gerard Piqué and Álvaro Arbeloa, with Fred going to ground while trying to compete for the cross. When neither Spanish defender was able to clear the ball, the cross fell to the Brazilian number nine, who was able to get his right foot onto it before Casillas could smother the ball.

The goal spurred Brazil on to an inspired first 25 minutes, when high pressing after turnovers threw the Spaniards off their game, the teams sharing possession for much of the half. Spain’s attempts to calm the game and resume their normal monopoly of the ball were disrupted by the Brazilians’ intensity, with the Seleçao nearly doubling their lead in the 28th minute while Fred failed to convert an open chance near the spot.

Near halftime, Spain almost equalized when Pedro, open in the right of the area, slid a ball past Julio César from 14 yards out. Brazilian defender David Luiz, however, lunged to complete spectacular clearance, preserving the home side’s lead as the world champions appeared to ascend into the match.

That ascent was quelled three minutes later when Neymar, fed to the left of Casillas, blasted a left-footed shot near post and into the top of goal, Casillas bending back and watching as the power of the shot carried Brazil to a 2-0 halftime lead.

In the 47th minute, Fred put the match away, queuing the assured, composed celebrations of teammates and coaches as he slid Brazil’s icing inside Casillas’s left post. Confidently jogging away from goal with a right hand to his ear, collecting the praise of a rabid Maracana crowd, Fred failed to portray his team’s role of surprised upstart. Instead, having had intermission to consider what the team had accomplished, the former Lyon man took his goal with a favorite’s confidence, jogging to the corner flag in triumph of his second score.

Whatever hope Spain maintained was vanquished in the 55th minute as Sergio Ramos, surprisingly attempting his team’s conversation after Jesus Navas drew a penalty, pulled his shot wide left of César’s goal. Fourteen minutes later, when Neymar drew a red card from Gerard Piqué, Spain suffered the indignity of finishing with 10 men.

Cruising through the last 20 minutes of a decided match, Brazil gave onlookers a chance to consider what’s to come. The soundtrack of the Marcana’s crowd told the story of a team who’d carried doubts into the tournament yet ultimately inspired their skeptical and fractured fan base. While protests and demonstrations proceeded outside the stadium, deriding the state of Brazilian social politics, the scene inside the venue spoke to the nation’s sporting potential. At next year’s World Cup, they’ll be more than hosts. Brazil will be threats, if not favorites, to claim a sixth World Cup.

Spain, in contrast, suffered their greatest embarrassment since 2008, when their victory at the European Championships ushered in this era of Spanish dominance. Whether that era ended with tonight’s loss, their worst in 28 years, remains to be seen, but La Roja’s vulnerabilities are clear. Whereas before this tournament it would have been difficult to justify seeing anybody but Spain as World Cup favorites, now the world’s former preeminent soccer power has affirmed a place in the discussion.

  1. ryanw822 - Jun 30, 2013 at 8:18 PM

    I’ve never seen a team act as if a game was a total inconvenience for them as Spain did today.

    • mafemani - Jun 30, 2013 at 8:56 PM

      They didnt act, and I will tell you why. Before the game, I predicted Spain would win by at least 4-1, but a couple of significant factors happened. First, let me say I am not yet sold to the Brazilian concept, today it was spot on though. Brazil doesnt have the kind of players they had before, but they have a coach and a few young stars who can play an efficient game without much flair. If you have watched Spain, you know their game is modeled on how Barcelona play, and that is knocking the ball around while looking for a space. They have no defensive structure, at least an old school one. They attack as a team and then if they lose the ball, they are taught to win it in seconds. That allows them to stay on the opposition half. Now, most national teams have struggled to cope with it, hence you see the Spain defense able to defend without any threat while launching attacks after attacks. A few Spanish minnows picked up on Barcelona’s weakness, especially last year. All they did was to deploy a basic counter attacking football. With Fred, Hulk, and Neymar, Brazil had players who would do just that. Oscar is your Kaka, he is disciplined and knows when to release the ball. This game reminded me of the game between Italy and Germany in 2006. Del Piero was doing all the damages. My point is, as long as you know how to exploit their defensive frailties, you can beat Spain anytime. You obviously need luck in your side and a goalkeeper that knows how to save your butt. The biggest mistake most teams make is come with an offside trap approach, it doesnt work against Spain. Mourinho actually did what Brazil did today against Barcelona, thats why he was able to get the better of them.

      • atrzar - Jul 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM

        Full disclosure: I am Brazillian.

        But…I’ve been saying this since the last Confederations Cup. Spain is a fraud. I don’t get this love affair that the media has with them. They consistently win games. Okay, fine. But every time anybody says that, they should qualify it with “by scrapping together one goal and then running out the clock”. I never heard anybody point out that Spain scored 8 goals in the 7 World Cup matches they played in 2010. They beat Switzerland 2-1 in the group stage and won EVERY. OTHER. GAME. ONE. TO. ZERO.

        In 2010, Brazil sucked, whatever I had no illusions about them. But look at Germany and Holland in 2010. Germany was smashing it in the back of the net 3 or 4 times a match. Holland had also had a pretty entertaining team. They both went up against Spain and lost. 1 to 0. Excuse me while I vomit.

        Even in this Confederations Cup. The only convincing victory they had was against Nigeria. Uruguay gave them a run for their money, and Italy just didn’t have quality finishers, but was still putting together many scary plays.

        You want to say they are the best in the world because they are in the top of the rankings? Fine. But sports is ultimately entertainment, and watching ANOTHER 1-0 match, or the occasional 2-1 match is not top class soccer. Sorry, it’s just not, and if you disagree with that you are just categorically wrong and I’m not even going to merit a reply.

        After last night’s game I have some faith in Brazil, but my chips are still on Germany for next year.

  2. slxc - Jun 30, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    Spectacuar game lets go Brazil

  3. surly1n1nd1anapol1s - Jun 30, 2013 at 8:52 PM

    Neymar and Fred form a fabulous partnership. The Piqué red card was deserved and this Spanish side just seemed outclassed at all spots. I would suspect that Jose Mourinho enjoyed this outcome most of all.

  4. mafemani - Jun 30, 2013 at 8:59 PM

    Like I said, counterattacking football works like charm against Spain. Their defense is full of attack-minded players, so offside trap is always a bad idea against them. I hope most national teams have watched this game as well as the ones Barcelona lost, especially against Madrid.You need fast forwards though.

  5. tylerbetts - Jun 30, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Fun game to watch? Yes.
    Dominating win for Brazil? Yes.
    A Blueprint for beating Spain? … Not So much.

    Here’s why:

    First, these officials let way too much physicality go today, especially for Brazil. I thought the referee did a disservice to himself by not taking control of the game earlier. Brazil, with a different referee, might have had a couple of yellow cards in the first twenty minutes of the game. And, if that happens, that game looks very different.

    Second, Ikar Casillas had a poor game. He should have done much better on both of Fred’s goals. I give him a pass on Neymar’s strike, though. We’ve seen him come through time-and-again for Spain. If he does better and gets to those two goals, this is a 1-0 game, and I think we see a much different Spain for most of the second half.

    Third, this is Brazil. Playing at home. How many teams will get to play Spain with a) that much talent and b) on their home soil. Not many.

    So, yes. A good game. But I don’t see it putting a tarnish on Spain or putting any questions about their dominance.

    • argentiniandan - Jul 1, 2013 at 9:30 AM

      I could not have said this better! All my thoughts exactly!

  6. jelliot1978 - Jun 30, 2013 at 10:03 PM

    What I noticed Brazil do that allowed them to defeat Spain is what Spain is renowned for, lose possession? Pressure immediately. This caused Spain to not get into tiki-taka mode and they turned the ball over a lot. Brazil also has top notch finishers. Neymar is on his way to being an elie world player. The advantage Brazil has next year can both be a boost or extra pressure and that is being the host. This game will put Brazil up there with Spain to win.

  7. jumpingnots - Jul 1, 2013 at 12:37 AM

    Spain just played a bad and sloppy game today,from the very beginning they where overwelmd and the first goal within 3 min really was on their minds,they lost possesion of the ball and that killed the whole game for them,so much that they even missed the penalty kick.Note- Neymar of Brazil might be a good player but he is even a better diver the revs have to keep a good eye on him,next year.

  8. dmaster82 - Jul 1, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    I do not understand how the article states this is the most embarrassing loss. What about when they lost usa in the last cup. This cup means nothing.

  9. jahdo79 - Jul 1, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Brazil simply outclassed a over hyped Spain team. People need to remember that Tiki-Taka football was created Brazil they are the masters of it. Spain will never be able to beat them with the style. Gustavo and T. Silva and David Luiz are simply too good to allow Spain to run around them with the ball. Bayern Munich did the same to Barca.

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