This is the final everyone wanted.
No team has been as dominant as Spain on the international stage since 2008, as the team has won two European titles and the 2010 World Cup. They'll face a Brazilian team that has certainly been the most exciting side at this year's Confederations Cup and will have their countrymen behind them.
Everything about this match is appealing.
These are the two most talented sides in the tournament. They play differing styles, as Spain is very meticulous and inquisitive in their build-up play, while Brazil like to attack at blazing speeds and are a joy to watch. Spain is led by technical wizards in Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez, while Brazil features one of the great young talents in the world in the explosive Neymar.
There are questions for each side, of course. Will Cesc Fabregas and Roberto Soldado be available, or will Fernando Torres once again lead the line? Will Thursday's epic shootout victory over Italy leave Spain running on fumes?
For Brazil, the main question is whether Hulk will remain in the starting lineup. He wasn't particularly impressive against Uruguay, and either Lucas Moura or Bernard would offer a more creative presence out wide.
While Spain will surely win the possession battle in this contest, don't expect Brazil to park the bus. The Brazilians should look to press and try to disrupt Spain in its defensive third as often as possible.
Obviously, when Brazil regains possession, you would expect them to counter quickly and utilize their superior athleticism. Few teams are more dangerous in the world when given space to attack than Brazil, and knowing Spain will look to slow the pace of the game, expect Brazil to pounce whenever given the chance.
One of Brazil's weaknesses in this tournament has been their play on balls sent into the box via the air, but Spain are not terribly dangerous on corners or crosses and Brazil should be off the hook in that regard. Obviously, the back line must remain organized and clear the ball when they have the chance—something they failed to do on Edinson Cavani's goal in the semifinals.
In fact, set pieces should be an advantage for Brazil. While sending the ball into the box and scoring via a ball won in the air isn't Brazil's forte, they are the taller side and could poach a goal from a corner.
For Spain, everything hinges on containing Neymar. The Barcelona man has been the tournament's best player, with three goals and three assists. He's been Brazil's leading man in all four games and has shown on an international stage why he's considered one of the world's most exciting young talents.
Getting players like Neymar, Oscar and Hulk (if he plays) in one-on-one situations will be key for Brazil. Spain's back line is pretty solid but it isn't the strength of the team, and often is supported by Spain's dramatic advantage in possession and tendency to quickly win the ball back by pressing opponents.
But trying to defend Brazil's attackers in space is a fool's errand for most defensive players, and Spain's back line could be vulnerable in one-on-one situations.
In the end, this game will come down to two things—which team will impose their style of play, and which team can avoid making that one crucial mistake?
The safer bet in both regards is Spain. While Brazil has plenty of players who can lift them to a victory with a brilliant individual moment, the odds of Spain slowing the pace of this game, dominating possession and limiting their mistakes are too great.
Brazil won't be held scoreless, but Spain will ultimately get the win, 2-1.
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