The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup kicked off on Saturday, with host nation and reigning champion Brazil taking on Japan in the first match of the two-week tournament.
With the Confederations Cup serving as a warm-up venue for potential 2014 World Cup teams, the two aforementioned teams are joined by Tahiti, Uruguay, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Nigeria in the quest to take home one of football's most prestigious titles.
FIFA is also using the event to test some new equipment.
One is a new ball, as noted here by AdidasFootball:
Another is technology at the goal line, as noted by AP writer Rob Harris:
Although Saturday's action is officially in the books, the best is yet to come in Brazil—starting with more soccer on Sunday that will continue until the eight-team field is weeded down to four, two and eventually one.
Check out the sections below for a complete recap of the Day 1 action.
2013 Confederations Cup Day 1 Scores
Brazil 3, Japan 0
Neymar 3', Paulinho 48', Jô 90'+3'
Brazil 2, Japan 0
If there were any questions about Neymar's ability to lead this Brazilian team into the World Cup next year, contingents of a deep run for the host nation will look to this match against Japan as proof that he can in fact take the next step.
This tweet from ESPN is simple enough to drive that point home:
Neymar got his side on the board just three minutes into the match, driving home a tailing shot from just outside the box and past the outstretched arms of Japanese goaltender Eiji Kawashima.
While the Japanese side got the better of the shot totals for the first half (and most of the match) they could not break through against Julio Cesar in the net. The Brazilian goaltender had an outstanding match on Saturday, making huge saves to keep Japan scoreless and pick up a huge boost in the goal differential department.
After the quick strike, neither team would get on the board again in the first half. Although both teams put up more than five shots in the first half, Brazil took a 1-0 lead into halftime (via Fox Soccer Trax):
As noted by ESPN's Paul Carr, Brazil has been quite the squad when leading at the half in the Confederations Cup:
They wouldn't disappoint on that mark as the second half began, getting a quick strike from Paulinho in the 48th minute on a beautiful cross from Dani Alves.
With the score then 2-0, Japan started to push the pace in an attempt to get some momentum and a goal to cut the deficit in half. The danger for Brazil started in the 70th minute, and Japan had three prime chances to score that were all thwarted by the defense or the goalie.
That streak included a Cesar save of Ryoichi Maeda's shot and another shot from Shinji Okazaki that went high over the bar. Japan didn't mount a shot again until the half was in its waning minutes, and a late goal from Jo ended up being the icing on the cake for Brazil in a huge opening match win.
Brazil won the possession battle (63 percent) and also had an 85 percent pass success on the afternoon (via WhoScored.com). It was a performance that held the hopes of Brazil up very high after the conclusion of the match, as the No. 22 ranking from FIFA seemed a bit low throughout the entirety of the contest.
If Neymar, Marcelo and Alves continue to play like this, it won't be there for much longer.
Both sides will have a few days off before their next group match kicks off, but that won't stop Group A or B from continuing toward the finals with two more matches on Sunday.
The struggling Mexico side will take on Italy in a Group A match, while Uruguay and Spain will show down on the other side of the tournament in Group B.
*For a complete look at the 2013 Confederations Cup Schedule, click here (via FIFA.com).
Follow Bleacher Report FC Ethan Grant (@DowntownEG) on Twitter.
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