Confederations Cup 2013 Final: Andres Iniesta Will Propel Spain to Victory

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJune 30, 2013

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 23: Andres Iniesta of Spain gestures during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group B match between Nigeria and Spain at Castelao on June 23, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

The Confederations Cup comes down to a match between Spain and host nation Brazil. They were the two top contenders heading into the tournament, and both lived up to the hype. Only one side features Andres Iniesta, though.

All the focus heading to the match will likely be on Neymar and perhaps rightfully so. The Brazilian sensation has been tremendous throughout the tournament and has almost single-handedly revitalized World Cup hopes in the football-crazy nation.

The 21-year-old forward still faces a learning curve, however. A championship matchup against the most dominant national team of recent years is going to showcase that. Spain is going to pull out all the stops to ensure Neymar doesn't take over the match.

By contrast, Iniesta is a battled-tested veteran. He's been through these high-profile matches countless times in the past and understands how to handle the immense pressure that comes along with them. It's simply a matter of experience.

The Barcelona midfielder, who will soon be playing alongside Neymar, has played in big matches for both club and country. He helped lead Spain to the World Cup in 2010 as well as the Euro 2012 title. He's also won a myriad of trophies with Barca.

Despite all that mileage, Iniesta continues to play at a very high level at age 29. Normally, that's around the time players at least start showing signs of wear and tear, but his ability to remain in top form is what makes him special.

Spain is going to need one of those highlight-reel performances against a Brazil side who's used the home support to its advantage. The Selecao have netted 11 goals in four matches, and that's without the benefit of facing Tahiti.

So there's a good chance the final will be a wide-open clash, unlike the semifinal against Italy that remained scoreless through extra time. That puts the onus on the Spanish midfield to take control of the match like it has so many times in the past.

It's an effort that begins with Iniesta, who could also push forward into more of an attacking role depending on who's available for manager Vicente del Bosque after the marathon semifinal win.

Regardless of his position with the formation, expect him to get a lot of touches early as Spain attempts to control the pace. While certainly capable of keeping up with Brazil in a high-scoring match, La Roja would prefer to play on their possession style.

The more early pressure they are able to put on the central defense combo of Thiago Silva and David Luiz, the better their chances of breaking down that wall later in the match.

Expect Iniesta to lead that charge en route to another major tournament triumph for Spain.