Brazil vs. Spain: Players to Watch in 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup Final

Patrick ClarkeCorrespondent IJune 28, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 19:  Paulinho of Brazil competes with Giovani dos Santos of Mexico during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 19, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Miguel Tovar/Getty Images)
Miguel Tovar/Getty Images

The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup will reach its pinnacle on Sunday in Rio de Janeiro as hosts Brazil and Spain go head to head in the championship match.

Both sides have been dominant to this point and are deserving of the opportunity they'll be given this weekend. Neither side has dropped a match over the past two weeks in Brazil, and combined the two sides have scored 26 goals while allowing just four en route to the final.

Therefore, there will be plenty to watch for on Sunday. Below we'll highlight a trio of stars to watch for in this weekend's final.


Neymar, Brazil

Brazilian stud Neymar is one of several players who have scored three goals thus far at the Confederations Cup, but if Brazil had a shot to play Tahiti during the group stage, the 21-year-old would no doubt be leading comfortably in that category.

The recent Barcelona addition scored three times during the group stage and played a key role on both of Brazil's goals against Uruguay in the semifinals on Wednesday, picking up an assist to go along with his three shots on target.

On Sunday, you can expect Neymar to be very active once again. Whether he's attacking and looking for his own shot or drawing defenders and opening space for his fellow attackers, the impact of his presence on the pitch cannot be overstated. 

With so much pressure on his shoulders playing at home against the reigning World Cup champions, it will be interesting to see how Neymar fares in Rio de Janeiro.


Jesus Navas, Spain

Spanish winger Jesus Navas may be small in stature, but he brings a lot to the table for Vicente del Bosque's squad. 

The 27-year-old has scored just twice for the senior national team over the past four years, but doesn't need to put the ball in the net in order to be effective. Navas' play on the edge is something that will concern Brazil's defense throughout on Sunday.

Navas is also a cool customer and won't be overwhelmed by the crowd or the moment this weekend. On Thursday, he put away the match-winning penalty against Italy, sending La Roja through to the final (via SportsCenter):

Whether he's causing problems with his pace or creating opportunities for his teammates, Navas will have an impact one way or another.


Paulinho, Brazil

Another player who has blossomed alongside Neymar at the Confederations Cup this summer is Brazilian midfielder Paulinho. The 24-year-old has two goals coming into Sunday's final, and can impact the game in a variety of ways.

Paulinho is strong on the ball and won't be dispossessed easily. As he showed in Wednesday's semifinal win over Uruguay, he's dangerous in the box on set pieces. His header late in the match was the deciding play and the one that allowed Brazil to advance.

Keep an eye out for Paulinho during set pieces on Sunday as his nose for the goal could be the difference in this championship showdown.


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