Confederations Cup 2013: Highlighting the Names That Matter Most This Weekend
Brazil and Spain will bring a close to the 2013 Confederations Cup with the final that many predicted and hoped for.
Prior to those two taking the pitch, at 6 p.m. ET, on Sunday, Italy and Uruguay will warm things up with a match to determine the third place finisher.
All of this sets up a day of great soccer with star power to spare. Check out the three players I expect to carry the biggest impact on these matches.
Coming off a match where they nearly toppled Spain, Italy's defense has once again proven itself as a force. However, they also wound up losing that match in penalties, and the Azzurri looked understandably spent by the end.
A little fatigue from the Italian side should be expected in this one, and that should help open up a crack or two in their defense. Luis Suarez must take advantage of this.
In Uruguay's 2-1 loss to Brazil, Suarez was held scoreless, but he's notched three goals already in this tournament.
Joined by Diego Forlan and Edinson Cavani, it's not like Suarez is alone in the attack, but against a defense like this, Uruguay needs its most explosive player to step to the forefront and wreak havoc.
Neymar has been flashing his prodigious skill during this Confederations Cup. He has three goals, which ties him for the team lead with Fred, and he has two assists to go with it.
His performances had him being voted Man of the Match for Brazil's first three games in this tournament.
After some lackluster international performances heading into the Confederations Cup, this has helped Neymar silence some of his critics. If he has a stellar performance against mighty Spain, he will silence all of those critics.
Not that it will be easy. Spain doesn't only make it tough for their opposition to get anything going on the attack, they make it tough for players like Neymar to even touch the ball. This will be a nice test for the 21-year-old.
Coming off a rough season for his club, Real Madrid, Iker Casillas has been in top form during the Confederations Cup.
He made a couple of fantastic and key saves in the semis against Italy.
As I mentioned with Italy above, given Spain's grueling match against in the semis, there is bound to be some fatigue on the Spain side. For a team that loves to dominate possession, this could lead to some sloppy passes and turnovers.
This is going to lead to more pressure on Casillas, and Spain will need him to respond with a championship-caliber effort.
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