Brazil vs. Spain: X-Factors Who Will Decide 2013 Confederations Cup Championship

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJune 27, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 27:  Referee Howard Webb speaks to Jordi Alba of Spain  during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Semi Final match between Spain and Italy at Castelao on June 27, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

An epic championship match in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup between Spain and Brazil is finally set, and we're sure to see some X-factor players step up to give their teams the upper hand at victory.

In a match that features so many world-class players, it's awfully easy to forget about players coming in under the radar who could make a big impact in their respective ways.

While players like Neymar, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Hulk will dominate headlines going into the match, these players will come through with huge performances.

Let's take a look at them in these X-factor predictions for the Confederations Cup final.


Jordi Alba, Spain

There hasn't been a player in this Confederations Cup that has been more valuable for Spain than Jordi Alba.

The defender has found himself a great spot in the back line at left back, where he's able to be creative offensively without it impacting his defensive abilities. He was able to do that incredibly well against Nigeria, with two goals and getting after it offensively.

That will be easier said than done against a Brazil squad that is usually sound defensively, but perhaps Alba's emergence will give them that added dimension. We all know what Spain brings to the table and all of the dangerous players to look out for, but don't forget about the 24-year-old.

I expect Alba to have his usual impact by getting on the wing and making runs, opening things up in the middle for Spain's talented midfielders to push and enjoy more space than they're used to.


Lucas Moura, Brazil

The Brazilians have been looking for a player to put next to Neymar up top, with Hulk not cutting it as of late. The biggest asset in that department has been Lucas Moura.

The new Paris Saint-Germain forward has grown to be a fan favorite for the host country of Brazil, and looks to be ready for a big breakout performance. Sunday will be the biggest chance to do that until next summer.

Lucas needs to emerge as a reliable attacker in this tournament if he wants to be in favor come next summer's World Cup. He's only 20 years old and has some time left to develop, but the Brazilians need him now.

Neymar won't be able to attack the Spanish defense by himself. It'll take a team effort up top, and that starts with him and Lucas.


Javi Martinez, Spain

Another one of Spain's up-and-coming stars, Javi Martinez has looked great on the big stage when he has gotten the chance to notch some playing time.

A player who primarily lines up at midfield in a central holding location, Martinez doesn't usually get in on the scoring but his impact is huge regardless.

His value was shown on Thursday, when Spain head coach Vincente del Bosque opted to replace Fernando Torres with Martinez late in their penalty-shootout victory over Italy. While it didn't result in goals, it helped Spain to shore up their massive defensive problems and ensure that Italy didn't get a game-winning goal late.

Spain was having major trouble stopping Italy's offensive attack, giving them plenty of chances to get on the scoring column. It won't be any easier against Brazil, who boast some of the most dangerous offensive players in the world. 

If Martinez gets the start or comes in off the bench, he'll be relied on to hold it down defensively while the other midfielders like Xavi and Iniesta roam in the attacking area.