Admit it. This is the matchup we all wanted to see.
The tournament hosts against the world and European champions. The enthusiasm and attraction of a gelling Brazil team against a tight-passing, experienced Spanish outfit that might be the best international side we’ve ever seen.
It will be a spectacle, and those of us who watch it expecting the highest form of entertainment football has to offer will almost certainly not be disappointed. This has “classic” written all over it.
So why don’t we get the fun started a bit early?
Following are five bold predictions for Sunday’s Confederations Cup Final. While they might not all come to pass, here’s guessing at least three or four of them are proven correct at the final whistle.
When the chips were down against Italy in the Euro 2012 final, Spain manager Vicente del Bosque opted to bench his natural centre-forwards in the favour of a “false 9” who played between Andres Iniesta and David Silva.
On that occasion, it was Cesc Fabregas, and chances are del Bosque will tap the Barcelona playmaker to function in a similar role on Sunday.
Brazil’s defense has been reasonably solid at this competition, but the best bet an opponent has for breaking them down would be to draw them out off their line, away from their comfort zone.
Fabregas, in the false 9 role, can accomplish exactly that.
In each of their three group stage games, Brazil came out firing after the opening whistle, scoring in the third minute against Japan and ninth minute against Mexico.
They were held back by the Italian defense despite coming out similarly strong in Salvador, but they eventually wore the Azzurri down and prevailed 4-2 at Arena Fonte Nova.
The Selecao will enjoy another fine start against Spain and will surprise their decorated opponents with an early goal that will only increase the level of intensity at the Maracana.
And who is more likely to net that opening goal than Neymar?
The 21-year-old did the early damage against Japan and Mexico and has been the best player at this competition so far.
He didn’t score against Uruguay in Wednesday’s semifinal, but he had a hand in both goals and is playing as well for his country as he ever has.
This match will be full of high-intensity players with short tempers.
Given Spain’s ball control, it would not be at all surprising if Luiz Gustavo or David Luiz is shown a red card due to pure frustration, and no doubt such an incident would alter the course of the match.
On the other side of the ball, Sergio Busquets or Alvaro Arbeloa, who will be tracking Neymar, could be vulnerable. That's especially true if Neymar gets under their skin, as he’s wont to do.
The locals won’t like it, but there’s simply no stopping Spain at the moment.
So long as Xavi and Iniesta are fit and functioning at a high level, there’s not a team in the world that can deal with La Roja—not even a Brazil side that have finally found the elusive run of form they’ve been seeking since their 2010 World Cup exit.
That said, Brazil have done incredibly well at this Confederations Cup and will go out of it a co-favourite to win the World Cup in a year’s time.