The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup is upon us. Brazil's tournament is a perfect opportunity for the nation to tests its infrastructure for next summer's World Cup, but that doesn't make the meeting any less competitive.
Following on from Bleacher Report's FIFA 13 simulation of next season's potential Monaco side, it's time to get international. The experiment remains the same: EA Sports' title will be used to sim every single result, although it's worth noting the 2010 FIFA World Cup title had to be utilised for any matches featuring Tahiti, Nigeria and Japan, as this is the most recent game to include licenses for all three.
During these particular matches, all squads were replicated as realistically as possible. Fortunately, the majority of matches could be carried out with FIFA 13's latest patches, although a few changes were made to ensure the Confederations Cup squads match the real selections. For example, Leandro Damiao was removed from Brazil's lineup.
How did each team fare? Did Brazil triumph? Let's take a look at the results.
Results—BRA 1-0 JPN, MEX 1-1 ITA, BRA 3-0 MEX, ITA 1-1 JPN, ITA 1-2 BRA, JPN 0-0 MEX.
Brazil emerged clear winners of Group A, conceding just one goal throughout the opening stages and scoring six. Neymar and Hulk both scored in the wins against Mexico and Italy, while Ramires notched an important winner in the match against Japan.
Despite taking the lead against Brazil through Emanuele Giaccherini, Italy's disappointing group stage saw the Europeans qualify for the semifinals on goals scored. Alessandro Diamanti netted the equalising goal against Mexico after a Javier Hernandez penalty, while Japan's last-minute strike stopped Italy from claiming three points against the Asians.
One win for Italy, Japan or Mexico would have seen them confirmed for the next round. The Japanese played consistently well and probably deserved second place in Group A, but were denied a dramatic victory against Mexico when Guillermo Ochoa plucked Keisuke Honda's shot away from the line in the dying minutes.
Now, it's time for Group B.
Results— ESP 3-0 URU, TAH 1-3 NGA, ESP 2-0 TAH, NGA 1-2 URU, NGA 1-1 ESP, URU 2-1 TAH.
Spain cantered through the group stages in second gear. An opening day thrashing of Uruguay set the tone for an easy route to the semifinals, confirmed by the World Champions' 2-0 win over Tahiti. A Xavi penalty saw Spain take the initiative against a Nigeria side that had Vincent Enyeama to thank for a Man of the Match performance.
The vital match in this group was undoubtedly Nigeria vs. Uruguay. Alvaro Pereira and Luis Suarez goals settled this in the second half, leaving the African team little time to stage a comeback.
Tahiti played with real heart throughout, although a lack of cutting edge and organisation in defence saw the Oceania outfit beaten. The ultimate underdogs managed two goals in the group and forced Iker Casillas into a fantastic save before Spain took control of their encounter. If this showing measures up to performances in the real competition, Tahiti will be extremely proud.
Semifinals and Third Place Playoff
Results—BRA 0-1 URU, SPA 3-1 ITA, BRA 2-1 ITA
This is the moment where FIFA 13 predicts Brazil's chances will come crashing down. In the all-South American clash with Uruguay, a late Gaston Ramirez strike condemns the host nation to failure. Early yellow cards put the pressure on Dani Alves, Ramires and Luis Gustavo, as Edinson Cavani's boundless energy between the midfield and forward line see Brazil's defence stretched. With minutes to go, Ramirez won it.
Spain took the lead against Italy with a goal in the opening minute from Roberto Soldado. While Claudio Marchisio levelled proceedings 15 minutes later, David Villa's two goals in the space of a minute ended the encounter on the hour. Mario Balotelli missed his first ever professional penalty with 20 minutes to go.
In the third-place playoff, Mattia De Sciglio's early goal put Brazil under immense pressure once more. Thiago Silva headed an equaliser in the second half and Sebastian Giovinco put a penalty wide with 10 minutes to go. Neymar stepped up to win the match in extra time.
Uruguay 2-1 Spain (AET)
Real Time Commentary—Fernando Muslera starts a fantastic game strongly by pushing Xavi's close-ranged effort wide in the opening minutes. Soldado should have scored on 12 minutes, but his side-footed effort rolls beyond the post. Four minutes later, he practically misses an open goal with Muslera scrambling to cover his net.
This personal battle intensifies throughout the match. Muslera dives bravely at the feet of Soldado on 22 minutes, snatching a certain goal from the Spaniard's feet. The Valencia forward then tries his luck from outside the area, but Muslera matches up to the effort once more.
On 34 minutes, Sergio Busquets' tame shot is caught by the Uruguayan stopper and Sergio Ramos cuts out a fine long ball to Luis Suarez. If he misses that, the South Americans are in.
A quick burst of drama kicks off the second half. Andres Iniesta tussles with Diego Godin in the area and the referee points to the penalty spot. Justice is served on an extremely harsh decision as David Villa's "Panenka" penalty is comfortably caught by Muslera. Five minutes later, the Uruguayan keeper makes a stunning dive to deny Villa and Iniesta's long shot crashes off the crossbar.
Jesus Navas cuts inside on his left and fires wide on 53 minutes, while Edison Cavani manages to get a powerless header on target. The breakthrough comes on 66 minutes as Navas somehow bundles the ball between the Uruguayan defence and slots beyond Muslera.
Uruguay suddenly spark into attack as Suarez's fierce volley is palmed onto the head of Nicolas Lodeiro, who outjumps Gerard Pique to hit the post. With three minutes left on the clock, Pique concedes a corner with a huge block on the edge of his area. Unfortunately for the Spanish, Busquets' poor header away allows Cavani to stroke the ball home from five yards.
In extra time, Pedro's attempt is saved by Muslera from a tight angle. Cesc Fabreas weaves beyond Godin and is halted by the foot of Uruguay's keeper. Spain once again fail to defend a corner and Cavani fires a shot at Casillas. The ball deflects off Xavi on the line as Casillas dives and allows Godin an open goal. He duly takes it on 112 minutes.
Muslera has time to make one more save, while Soldado misses another decent chance at the death. Uruguay take the prize.
Match Facts—Muslera wins Man of the Match with 10 saves. Uruguay get five out of six shots on target, while Spain manage 10 from 19. The Europeans dominate with 56 percent possession.
So there we have it. If FIFA 13 is anything to go by, Uruguay will shock everyone to win the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup. Can they really stage a famous comeback to halt Spain's international dominance? Will Muslera defy the odds to keep his team on top?
If these results are true, this year's tournament is set to be a historic one.
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