When Brazil and Spain meet with the FIFA Confederations Cup title at stake, it will be Spain who makes the bold statement leading up to next year's World Cup.
It does not get much better than Spain versus Brazil. The two-time reigning Confederations champion squares off against the reigning World Cup winner. It's the match many hoped for, one that FOX Sports pegged "a dream final."
Or, as Rob Hughes of The New York Times eloquently put it, it's a showdown between the "Best in World" and "Best in History."
Well, since history does not directly factor into Sunday's outcome, let's go with the best in the world to emerge victorious. In a title match with Brazil's national fans in attendance, Spain will show its superiority over Brazil and the world.
These are all bold statements for a club that nearly lost a nail-biter to Italy during the semifinals. The score was stuck at 0-0 through 90 minutes and remained that way after 30 more. La Roja inched past an Azzurri club hungry for redemption with a 7-6 advantage in penalty kicks.
Brazil needed a late corner kick to squeak past Uruguay, but a team that limped into the tournament has looked as good as new, notching 11 goals during the tournament through rousing play from Neymar, who has accounted for three scores and two assists.
Brazil has the home-field advantage, the past success in the tournament and a more rested squad that was scouting Spain while its players were enduring a marathon of a match. Despite all that, Spain boasts the better club, and that should be enough to keep their winning ways intact.
While Brazil entered the Confederations Cup with a disappointing No. 22 FIFA world ranking, Spain stood tall as the overwhelming No. 1. Is Brazil's hot streak enough to overlook the preceding slump? Sports are funny, and the triumphant underdog is always celebrated, but the favorite is favored for a reason.
It's only fitting that the best team in the world has the best goalkeeper in the world, Iker Casillas. Despite his Real Madrid" href="http://www.fifa.com/confederationscup/news/newsid=2119704/" target="_blank">unpleasant benching in Real Madrid, the 32-year-old captain remains the heart and soul of La Roja. His legacy speaks for itself, and now healthy he should have at least one more run left in him.
Not that they need to score too much, but on most days (with the semifinals an exception) they can. Fernando Torres' five goals leads the tournament, and David Villa is not far behind on the leaderboard with three.
Spain has imposed its will on the opposition so far, outscoring its foes 18-1. Spain's squad is a well-oiled machine that can cement its stronghold over the sport by adding the Confederations Cup to its list of accolades alongside the World Cup and last two Euros.
The dream final might quickly turn into a nightmare for Brazil, who will realize that Spain is now the team to beat.