After what was an exciting group stage of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, the action has only begun in Brazil as four world-class teams will square off for the crown.
While Spain, Italy, Uruguay and Brazil have their sights ultimately set on next summer, where they'll all be real contenders for the 2014 World Cup, there's no discounting the significance of the Confederations Cup and what the momentum means for each national team going forward.
With world-class talents like Neymar, Luis Suarez, Andrea Pirlo and Andres Iniesta set to be featured on the pitch, it's a guarantee that we'll be given splendid performances from the tournament's final four matches.
Now that the knockout stage is upon us, we could see some extra-time affairs and matches that come down to the wire between some of the world's best players.
Let's take a look at the television schedule for the semifinal and championship round of the Confederations Cup to make sure you don't miss out on any of the intense action.
Remaining Match Schedule
|Wednesday, June 26||3 p.m. ET||Belo Horizonte|| |
Brazil vs. Uruguay
|Thursday, June 27||3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||Spain vs. Italy||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 30||12 p.m. ET||Salvador||Third-Place Game||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Sunday, June 30||6 p.m. ET||Rio De Janeiro||Final ||ESPN||
There were more questions than answers surrounding the Brazil squad heading into the Confederations Cup, with high hopes looming for the host country in next year's World Cup needing validation.
So far, they haven't disappointed. Three matches, three wins and nine goals for Neymar and company.
Speaking of Neymar, the 21-year-old Barcelona phenom has thrown himself a coming-out party thus far in the tournament. Three goals and one assist don't do his performances justice, but perhaps this incredible highlight does (image via 101 Great Goals).
But it won't be as simple of a task to pull out victory Wednesday in Belo Horizonte. They'll face fellow South American foe Brazil in a test to see which team south of the Equator has the top form.
It'll take a big performance from Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani for Uruguay to offset the attacking prowess that Brazil are sure to bring.
Meanwhile, the second semifinal does plenty to live up to the immense hype created by Brazil-Uruguay. In fact, Spain vs. Italy might end up boasting more overall talent.
The Spaniards are hungry to continue building off a dominant group stage en route to defending their World Cup crown next summer. If they are able to continue their top play on Thursday against Italy, it'll do wonders to prove that they can handle world-class teams on a regular basis.
Italy may very well be in contention deep in next summer's affair, and if Spain are able to have their same type of dominance against that stingy, suffocating Italian defense, it would be a huge sign.
Without Mario Balotelli in the lineup for the semifinal round (per BBC Sport), Italy will have to get playmaking prowess from players like Stephan El Shaarawy. Replacing Balotelli is no small task, though, and it will take a team effort.
There's no doubt that these are four world-class teams, but two stand out from the pack and they just so happen to be playing in different matches.
Spain haven't lost a step from their 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro championships, and they've received encouraging, goal-scoring signs from forwards Fernando Torres and David Villa, who both have endured their fair share of struggles as of late. Their continued ascendance will climb La Roja past Italy, who will be starved for goals without Balotelli.
The Italians' Confederations Cup bid will come to an end against Spain, 3-1.
Meanwhile, Brazil simply have too much playmaking power, and Neymar is leading this side with the chemistry that we haven't seen from a national team in some time. Uruguay boast danger on the offensive end, but Brazil are the complete package.
Brazil will top Uruguay, 4-2.