Brazil vs. Spain: Key Issues La Roja Face in 2013 Confederations Cup Final
If Spain are going to win the 2013 Confederations Cup, they're going to have to reach down deep and find whatever is left in the tank.
La Roja made it to the final after knocking out Italy on penalties. The match was scoreless for 120 minutes, with both sides letting a lot of good chances to win the match go to waste.
It was an epic match, but it leaves Spain at a major disadvantage. Even though they're the reigning world and European champions, they might actually go into the final against Brazil as the underdog.
Brazil are the host country and will have had an extra day of rest.
Here are three burning questions for Spain going into the final.
How Much Do They Have Left?
The Spain players looked absolutely gassed at the final whistle going into the penalty shootout. There were multiple Spanish players who had their hands on their knees exasperated during whatever stoppage in play there was.
Meanwhile, Brazil were able to sit back and watch their upcoming opponents exert themselves for 120 minutes during what was a humid afternoon leading into a humid night.
Many have pointed out how many fixtures the Spanish players are forced to play during a year. They've got their league season, deep runs at international tournaments, then friendlies the football federation schedules in order to increase the financial coffers.
When Barcelona was getting knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich, the likes of Xavi, Gerard Pique and Andres Iniesta looked absolutely knackered.
It was the same kind of look Spain had against Italy.
While the team has until Sunday to rest, Brazil will have had that extra day, and didn't play 30 extra minutes.
If the Spain players are tired, they're not going to be as effective in the attack, nor will they be able to run around and press when Brazil is on the ball.
How Will They Handle Brazil's Width?
One of the things Italy constantly exploited was Spain's lack of width. Emanuele Giaccherini and Christian Maggio had phenomenal performances, mostly because they had so much space to work with out wide. Jordi Alba and Alvaro Arbeloa were constantly having problems handing Italy's wide players.
Then, in the attack, there was no player who could stretch the pitch. Zonal Marking's Michael Cox illustrated the problem during the match.
@JanuszESPN ...Spain lack drive, width, pace down the flanks, in my view. Alba provides that and I'm not sure others can— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) March 25, 2013
Luckily for Brazil, they have plenty of players who will be able to replicate that kind of performance.
Dani Alves has dropped off in recent seasons, but he's still very good going forward. And he's looked very good in the tournament so far. Marcelo is also good when making forward runs.
Further up the pitch, Luiz Felipe Scolari has Neymar and Hulk. While both are more inverted wingers, you can't afford to give them space. They'll be able to get a head of steam and easily fly into the box.
Jesus Navas helped to alleviate some of the pressure when he was brought on, so it will be interesting to see if he gets the start. Otherwise, Spain could be looking at another match in which they are bogged down in the middle of the pitch, with little help out wide.
Who Will Handle the Scoring Duties?
Whom will Vicente del Bosque choose?
Fernando Torres got the start against Italy, but he was far from convincing. Plus, he looked the most tired of all the players, as he appeared to be running on fumes by the end of the match.
Roberto Soldado has started a couple of matches in the group stage, so he's an option, as is David Villa.
Torres didn't have a great game against Italy. There were a few times when he wasted golden opportunities, the biggest one coming after Maggio almost put Italy ahead with a header he put right at Iker Casillas.
Spain lacked any teeth at the top of their attack against Italy. Iniesta was the only one getting any real shots on goal, and that's never a good sign for your team. Iniesta is a great creator, but a not so great finisher.
Going with a fresher option in either Villa or Soldado probably makes the most sense, since they won't tire out as quickly.
Plus, you don't know how much you can rely on Torres. He looked great against Tahiti, but that doesn't really count. Scoring as a sub against Nigeria helps his case, though. Still, Torres is largely on a poor run of form when you throw in his performances with Chelsea.
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