With Brazil defeating Uruguay 2-1 on Wednesday, we now just await the winner of the Spain versus Italy match to determine the final at this year's Confederations Cup.
While Italy will be without star forward Mario Balotelli and defender Ignazio Abate, talisman Andrea Pirlo is expected to return to the lineup in his deep-lying playmaker role. That's good news for Italy, which is already facing steep odds against a stacked Spanish side.
It should be a competitive match, hopefully more so than Spain's 4-0 victory over Italy in last year's European Championship final. Let's take a closer look at where each team stands with just three matches to go.
Schedule and Viewing Guide
|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||WatchESPN|
Where Brazil Stands
In the final, that's where.
Brazil's performance against Uruguay wasn't their finest at this tournament, but in the end they managed to get the job done behind Neymar's two assists. This is a team that came into the Confederations Cup with some questions but has looked like one of the world's elite sides throughout.
If a change were to be made in this side, it might be inserting either Lucas Moura or Bernard into the lineup and removing Hulk. The powerful winger is always a danger to blast from distance, but he can be pretty hit-or-miss and gave a rather lackluster performance against Uruguay.
Beyond that, the Brazilian starting lineup seems pretty set, and pretty solid, heading into the final.
Where Uruguay Stands
Uruguay easily could have won Wednesday's semifinal—or at least sent it into extra time—seeing as Diego Forlan's penalty kick early in the first half was saved by Julio Cesar.
The Uruguayans will go into the third-place game as underdogs, but it seems to be a role they relish. Considered the underdogs on Wednesday, they frustrated Brazil for much of the 90 minutes and were a bit unlucky to lose the match, especially given the fortuitous nature of Fred's karate-kick goal at the end of the first half.
Don't be shocked if the Uruguayans pull off an upset and finish third.
Where Spain Stands
As the favorites to win this tournament. Still.
Fernando Torres will slot in as the starting forward in this game, meaning he'll not only be expected to run into dangerous spaces and look to provide a target in the attack but also neutralize Pirlo when Italy are on the ball.
Beyond that, Spain will have a familiar lineup and will hope to do what they always do—control possession, wait for a crack in the Italian defense and strike once given a sliver of space to operate in.
Given how dominant they've been at the tournament thus far—albeit against pretty weak competition, save Uruguay—it's hard to see them losing.
Where Italy Stands
In a bit of quicksand, more than likely.
Balotelli was the one player that could have really given Spain fits, and he is done for the tournament. Thus, expect Italy to sink back into a shell, utilizing a three-man back-line and clogging the midfield with five players in the hopes of parking the proverbial bus behind the ball and frustrating Spain.
The hope will be to occasionally strike on the counter-attack or to steal a goal on a set piece. It isn't exactly an unfamiliar strategy for the Italians, who always pose a major threat at important tournaments.
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