Confederations Cup 2013 Final: Areas Spain Must Improve Before 2014 World Cup

Steven Cook@@stevencookinFeatured Columnist IVJuly 1, 2013

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JUNE 30:  Xavi and Cesar Azpilicueta of Spain look dejected after being defeated in the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Final match between Brazil and Spain at Maracana on June 30, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

The 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup should serve as some added motivation for Spain until they play in Brazil next for the 2014 World Cup. 

Spain will be able to rest easy knowing that this isn't the most important tournament in Brazil over the next few years. They'll be right back next summer, looking to defend their World Cup title and continue staking their claim as one of the all-time great teams.

So, with a year left for Spain to prepare for the World Cup, where do they go from here as far as improvements? Glad you asked. 


Speed on Defense

The Spanish national team seemed destined for more international glory throughout this whole tournament, and they looked ready to stifle Brazil's menacing attack in the final between two world-class sides. 

However, Brazil had other ideas. They attacked as usual, not letting up as Spain continued to look more and more tired.

Fred, like he has done five total times in the tournament, put home a loose ball in the box to give Brazil an early lead that the host country would never relinquish. Neymar looked unstoppable across the entire pitch, as Spain's efforts to quell him resulted in a red card from Gerard Pique, one of the team's leaders and the staple of their defense.

It looked as if every time Brazil made a run for an offensive attack, they were twice as fast as Spain's defenders. Obviously, much of that must have been due to Spain's tired legs from a 120-minute match against Italy days prior, but it was still noticeable and played out as a big factor.

Spain have players on defense like Jordi Alba, Alvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos who can keep up with anybody speed-wise. But if they don't play like it, teams as talented as Brazil will carve them up.


Takeover Ability From Attackers

Fernando Torres gets much of the blame, but Spain's inability to score goals at times comes from the lack of a second gear from their attackers up top.

Sure, Spain can lull you to sleep with their immense passing abilities and might be able to keep the ball away from you for minutes at a time. But too often, that results in an offense becoming stagnant and that's just what Spain have suffered from.

When Torres (or Pedro, or Juan Mata) isn't completing his runs and getting open out front, Spain's offensive efforts are pushed to the outside. They are sometimes able to have success out there, but that ends up relying on the strikers again to get their heads on crosses or finish plays in the box.

We saw plenty of this from Spain in the Confederations Cup, but it wasn't there at all against Brazil. They looked like a shell of themselves from start to finish. You could never really tell which player wanted the moment, or if any of them did.

If Spain is truly the best team of this generation, they have to figure out how to play with resiliency. They can't always rely on controlling the match, because against a team like Brazil's, you can get scored on in the blink of an eye.


Consistency With Starting XI

It's hard to argue that any other country produces more footballing talent than Spain, but that can sometimes turn into a distraction in and of itself. Perhaps that is some of the issue in their inefficiency from forwards.

Who's starting up top for Spain? Is the starting striker spot Fernando Torres' to lose now, or is the fact that he scored only one goal other than his four against Tahiti going to keep him in the dog house again?

Will Juan Mata be a perennial starter from here on out, and if so, where? His selection on the left side has taken playing time away from David Silva, who has been so huge for Spain in recent international affairs.

Is Cesc Fabregas going to be used sparingly in the midfield, or will he emerge by next summer? What about Jesus Navas, has he shown enough to prove worthy of a regular substitute spot next summer?

It certainly helps that you have players like Andres Iniesta, Xavi, Sergio Ramos, who are almost guaranteed a starting spot, when it comes to fielding a consistent team.

But with so many world-class players and so few spots, head coach Vincente del Bosque will have his hands full in deciding who to take on his roster for the 2014 World Cup.