From the outset of the 2013 Confederations Cup, it appeared Brazil and Spain were on a collision course for the final. Two weeks later, the marquee matchup will come to fruition after both sides survived thrilling semifinals.
Host nation Brazil was caught in a fierce showdown with Uruguay before Paulinho provided the winner in the closing minutes. It was the first true test of the Selecao after dominating in group play and they were up to the challenge.
Spain played Italy to a scoreless draw through regulation and extra time. The European rivals proceeded to penalty kicks and, after staying even for six rounds, Leonardo Bonucci missed for Italy. It allowed La Roja to reach another major tournament final.
So now Brazil seeks its third straight Confederations Cup trophy while Spain hopes to extend its stretch of international dominance. Let's check out all the key viewing information for the final, followed by players to watch and a prediction.
Where: Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
When: Sunday, June 30 at 6 p.m. ET
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
Brazil Player to Watch: Neymar
Paulinho pushed Brazil into the final with his clutch goal in the semifinals and the Brazilian defensive effort, led by captain Thiago Silva and goalkeeper Julio Cesar, has been strong all tournament. In the end, however, it always comes back to Neymar.
The dynamic 21-year-old forward has been an offensive force since the opening whistle against Japan. He scored three minutes into that match, setting the tone for Brazil's deep run, and hasn't missed a beat since. It's safe to say he's the real deal.
Facing Spain is the toughest challenge of the tournament. Neymar will play alongside or against many of the La Roja players when he heads to Barcelona next season. They are going to limit his space and do everything in their power to ensure he doesn't take over the match. He must respond.
Spain Player to Watch: Jordi Alba
Alba has developed into one of Spain's most valuable assets. Not only is he a solid defender on the left side, but he's consistently shown the ability to make a major impact moving forward. He scored twice against Nigeria during group play.
For a side like La Roja, which usually controls possession, versatility is essential to success. They must showcase variety on the attack to keep opponents from having success by simply hunkering down in the final third. Alba working on the wing is one way they do that.
Brazil has seen the type of plays the 24-year-old defender can make when he's given time and space. The Selecao need to keep tabs on him at all times. Going at Alba while on the attack to wear him down would also be a wise move. Whatever it takes to limit his offensive contributions.
Matchup to Watch: Brazil attack vs. Spain midfield
The possession battle is crucial. If Brazil can keep it close, as Italy did against Spain in the semifinal, it should spend a lot of time in the final third creating chances. If La Roja control the middle of the pitch like usual, they will hold a significant edge.
If the Selecao are going to triumph, the likes of Neymar, Oscar, Fred and Hulk need to get a lot of touches in dangerous areas. They certainly can't be playing near the midfield line as Spain puts on a passing clinic.
For Spain, it comes down to business as usual. Let Andres Iniesta and Xavi attempt to work their magic in the midfield, leading sustained attacks and delivering pinpoint passes. Should La Roja play their best brand of football, they will win another title.
All told, look for Spain to pull out the Confederations Cup championship after another entertaining clash.
Spain 2, Brazil 1 (after extra time)
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