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FIFA Confederations Cup 2013: Complete Preview for Spain vs. Tahiti

Jun 8, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL,  USA;  Spain midfielder Juan Mata (13) celebrates a goal with teammate midfielder Cesc Fabregas (left) against Haiti during the first half of a friendly at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 20, 2013

Some of the most talented players in the world will be on display for Spain as the reigning World Cup champs take on Tahiti.

Spain came through with an impressive win over Uruguay in its first match of the Confederations Cup. With another win on Thursday, it can clinch a spot in the tournament's semifinals.

Meanwhile, Tahiti is clearly just happy to be here after advancing out of Oceania. The squad lost 6-1 against Nigeria, and yet the one goal represented one of the biggest moments in national history. Here is a look at how it was celebrated.

Still, the club continues to fight hard and will be happy to do anything against Spain in the upcoming match.


Where: Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

When: Thursday, June 20

Time: 3 p.m. ET


Live Stream: Watch ESPN


What They're Saying

Tahiti head coach Eddy Etaeta did not come into this tournament expecting to win based on his roster. Although you can expect them to play hard, as he told the media, with quotes reported by FIFA:

Of the 23 players we have, we have nine players who don't work, who are practically unemployed. Some are delivery men, some are PE teachers, one works in accounting, and I also have a player who is a sports coach.

We won't have the same weapons, technically, tactically, and physically, but tomorrow, we'll certainly have the heart and that's our weapon - our heart and spirit.

This was referring to the matchup against Nigeria, but the match against Spain will be even tougher.


Spain Player to Watch: Pedro

Throughout Spain's dominant run to winning the World Cup and two European Championships, the squad still lacked a consistent threat at forward.

While the midfield has the ability to control possession and create opportunities in the box, the team missed out on potential goals in these international matches because of struggles by Fernando Torres and others.

Recently though, Pedro has been incredibly efficient in his scoring. and it has made the best team in the world even better.

The Barcelona man must continue to show he can get it done as Spain prepares for the tougher opponents in this tournament.


Tahiti Player to Watch: Marama Vahirua

Although Tahiti had a rough time against Nigeria, Marama Vahirua showed plenty of signs of life in the match.

The midfielder was aggressive near the net with his time on the pitch and led the team with three shots, one of them on net. He made solid runs to get himself open, and he eventually got the assist on the team's only goal.

Vahirua is one of the more veteran players on this roster and needs to be a leader throughout this tournament. Otherwise, Tahiti will have a tough time getting on the scoreboard again.


Prediction: Spain 6, Tahiti 0

In reality, this is not going to go well for Tahiti. In FIFA's latest rankings, Spain is No. 1 in the world while Tahiti is No. 138.

Best case scenario is that Spain gets a few early goals and then controls possession throughout the rest of the match without running up the score. With arguably the most talented midfield in the world, this should not be an issue.

Tahiti will fight hard as usual, but Spain is much more disciplined than Nigeria and another goal is unlikely. The squad must hope for a better opportunity against Uruguay in the next match.


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