Confederations Cup 2013: Stars Who Must Shine Brightest in Final
It's only fitting that a match between two of the world's best teams will come down to stars' individual performances in the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Brazil and Spain both possess stars on their side who have the ability to change the course of a match with a single play, and they'll be called upon by their respective teams with a championship on the line.
Who will come up big? These guys have to if their side wants an upper hand.
Brazil goes as Neymar goes, and that will be especially true during Sunday's final.
Brazil have had the luxury of not playing a team of Spain's caliber until now, but that's all wiped away now that they're facing the 2010 World Cup champs and 2012 Euro winners.
Suddenly, Brazil went from being able to dominate the game in their usual fashion to having to worry about making every possession count, since Spain is sure to take 60 percent of possession as usual.
This will make Neymar's attacking efficiency doubly important. When he gets the ball in an attacking setup, he must capitalize and not waste any big chances at putting one in the net.
He's dazzled so far in the tournament, with three goals in the three group stage matches, and has displayed passing prowess as well on the pitch.
It'd be wrong to expect anything over than Neymar's best on Sunday, but if for some reason he doesn't bring that, Brazil will have no chance.
Fernando Torres, Spain
The statistics show that Fernando Torres is "back," as he leads the tournament with five goals, according to WhoScored.com. However, four goals against Tahiti might need an asterisk due to the lack of difficulty.
Nonetheless, Torres has had himself a productive Confederations Cup and Spain will need that to continue on Sunday.
I just got finished talking up Spain's defensive prowess, but Brazil is no slouch with their back line. Players like David Luiz, Marcelo and Dani Alves stand tall in an often impenetrable defensive wall.
Torres has had success penetrating and getting good scoring chances, but he wasn't able to make an impact in Spain's semifinal showdown against Italy. That wasn't exactly a knock on Torres, however, as nobody scored in a 0-0 tie before Spain took it in penalty kicks.
Iker Casillas, Spain
The Spanish goalkeeper had questions surrounding him coming into the Confederations Cup, but he's quelled them with a slew of impressive performances.
Iker Casillas was out of favor at Real Madrid under then-manager Jose Mourinho after breaking his hand earlier in the season and not returning to the starting spot upon his return.
With Victor Valdes and Pepe Reina both on the squad and able goalies for major professional clubs, Vicente del Bosque still decided to go with the man who fell out of favor in the Bernabeu.
Casillas came into the semifinal showdown against Italy with a killer's mentality and needed it, quieting a boisterous Italian attack with his nimble goalkeeping.
Get this: Casillas' Spanish side have only given up one goal in the entire tournament, and it was a late free kick from Luis Suarez in extra time of their 2-1 victory over the Uruguayans. Simply put, Casillas has been dominant and he'll continue to do that against Brazil if he can stay on his game and step up to the task.
Containing Neymar, Fred, Hulk and more will be easier said than done and he'll need to lean on experience and footballing I.Q. to get him there.
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