You couldn't have written a more perfect storyline heading into the final match in Brazil: The best international club in the world squaring off against a resurgent Brazilian side that is slowly coming into their own.
Spain has an edge over Brazil in the Confederations Cup final, but the world champions aren’t the clear-cut favorites to run away with the title on Brazilian soil this weekend.
While the Spaniards are the clear favorites to add another international tournament crown to their growing collection, don’t discount the home-country heroes on their own soil.
To this point in the draw, Brazil has surrendered just three goals on net. They are riding high after winning all four of their matches in this World Cup warm-up affair.
On the other side of the pitch, Spain found their toughest test in recent memory after surviving a penalty-kick affair against the Italians. The resulting draw, though, nearly saw the Spanish giants suffer their first international defeat in their last 30 fixtures.
Mario Balotelli was sidelined with an injury. Spain escaped—advancing by the narrowest of margins—by winning 7-6 in penalty kicks. With Balotelli in the mix, we could be preparing for a rematch between the Brazilians and Italians instead.
Spain fought through adversity, though, and found a way to survive, keeping their world-record streak intact in the process.
But how much longer can they sustain their impressive dominance over the best the world has to offer?
Have they ever been tested like they will be on Sunday at the Marcana in Rio De Janeiro against the hopeful and confident Brazilians?
In a matchup where both sides are filled with highly skilled players like Neymar and Fernando Torres, the advantage lies in execution and desire. ESPN’s Paul Carr laid out just how impressive these two sides’ rosters really are:
Inlcuding Neymar, 24 of 46 Spain/Brazil #ConfedCup players are from Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea or Bayern.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) June 28, 2013
Plus, there is the rest factor to consider. The Brazilians are acclimated to the hot and humid conditions of their homeland and will be operating after an extra day to rest, giving them a slight edge.
Who wins and by how much?
There isn’t much that separates the two clubs on the pitch, though, save for the impressive and consistent string of victories the Spanish have strung together.
All streaks come to an end sometime, though.
While next summer’s World Cup results may end significantly different, chalk this one up to the hosts in front of their passionate and deserving fans.
Brazil’s return back to prominence has been long-awaited and we’ll witness a huge step forward for one of history’s finest.