The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup is in full swing, with exciting knockout stage matches sure to excite and produce some of the greatest international football of the year.
Brazil were the first team to get through to the championship match, defeating Uruguay Wednesday with a late header and a 2-1 victory. But their match in the final is undetermined, but Spain and Italy set to battle it out as the European giants will decide which side gets to face the host country.
Whoever loses will face Uruguay in the third-place match, so that just means an extra match between elite sides that we get to enjoy.
Let's check out everything you need to know about the final three matches.
|Thurs., June 27||3 p.m. ET||Fortaleza||Spain vs. Italy||ESPN||WatchESPN|
|Sun., June 30||12 p.m. ET||Salvador||Uruguay vs. (Third-Place)||ESPN2||WatchESPN|
|Sun., June 30||6 p.m. ET||Rio De Janeiro||Brazil vs. (Final)||ESPN||WatchESPN|
*Courtesy of ESPNMediaZone.com.
Spain vs. Italy: Thursday, June 27 at 3 p.m. ET
Two of the most dangerous teams in Europe take the stage on Thursday and a championship match appearance will be on the line.
The Italians have been led in seemingly every international affair as of late by Mario Balotelli, but that won't be the case against Spain, as he's been ruled out with an injury. They'll have to lean on the likes of Andrea Pirlo and Stephan El Shaarawy, among others, to fill the void.
Balotelli or not, it doesn't look like Italy would exactly be a runaway favorite. The Spanish side is on a historic international run, one that has taken them through the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euro.
If Andres Iniesta, Xavi and company are on their game with the swift passing and possession-dominant grasp on the match, Italy will be no match and we'll be in for a Spain-Brazil final.
Spain 2, Italy 1
Third Place: Uruguay vs. Italy*: Sunday, June 30 at 12 p.m. ET
It'll be tough for Uruguay to get themselves up for this match. They were at top form at times in their Confederations Cup performance, played right with Brazil and still failed to make the final yet again.
Now, they'll have to face Italy for the rights to call themselves third-place finishers in the 2013 Confederations Cup. Not exactly the biggest stakes, and I feel like it'll show in the match.
If both sides were gunning for the championship, Uruguay would be able to topple Italy without Balotelli. Their offensive firepower was at its peak in this tournament, with Luis Suarez proving impossible to defend at times and Edinson Cavani finishing in the penalty box.
However, Italy are a much more composed and experienced team that will come into a third-place match with a similar mindset and will as usual. And that's what will translate onto the pitch.
Italy 3, Uruguay 1
Final: Spain* vs. Brazil: Sunday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET
Brazil looked to be the most dominant team in the tournament in group stage, and they were. But I wasn't convinced after their tight, 2-1 win over Uruguay.
Neymar will need to be a force for the full 90 minutes, and he simply wasn't doing that in the semifinal match. While he had a great run that turned into a rebound goal and had his moments, it wasn't the usual effectiveness that Brazil needs.
Plus, the struggles of Hulk aren't getting any less noticeable, and the defense had a couple of gaffes against Uruguay.
Meanwhile, Spain is boasting a strong defensive back line that isn't budging even against solid attacks. They held Uruguay scoreless in their opening match up to the final minutes, when a Suarez free kick found its way past Iker Casillas in the Spanish goal.
Even if Brazil were at their best, they'd have a tough time hanging with Spain and making the most of their time with the ball. If anyone can take a little bit of possession and turn it into goals it's Brazil, though.
I don't expect the home team to falter, and they should fight hard. Additionally, I don't think Spain will have a good night offensively.
But when they need to turn it on, they do, and that's what will happen in extra time of the championship.
Spain 2, Brazil 1 (extra time)
* = denotes team hasn't guaranteed a spot in match