Brazilian players celebrate their third consecutive Confederations Cup title
The 2013 Confederations Cup Final between Spain and Brazil was labeled as the "fantasy final," and, boy, did it deliver on that promise, just not in the way most people were expecting.
On one end, there was a very experienced team in Spain, who has won pretty much everything there is to win in international football in the past five years or so. This includes two UEFA European Championships and a FIFA World Cup.
However, on the other end, there was a very young, inexperienced and up-and-coming side in Brazil, who has one of the world's best players in Neymar. The Brazilians were also playing in front of their home crowd, and were coming off of a thrilling semifinal victory over Uruguay.
So, everything was set up for it to be a fantasy final, right?
It didn't take long for the Brazilians to let the world know that this was going to be their night.
Right from the kickoff, Brazil used their pace and energy to take it to the Spaniards. They closed the ball down immediately, pressured the Spanish backline back to their own 18-yard box and forced mistakes from players like Andres Iniesta and Xavi, who do not typically make any.
In the opening 90 seconds, Brazil's hard work and tactics paid off. Fred scored his fourth goal of the tournament with a beautiful move and a hard-working finish by the forward.
While many would say Iker Casillas should have reacted quicker in goal for Spain, Fred did brilliantly to get the final touch and score the quickest goal that Spain has ever conceded under head coach Vicente del Bosque.
However, the play of the day may have come from a Brazilian defender, despite the ferocity, speed and aggression that Brazil showed in their attack.
Five minutes before halftime, Juan Mata found Pedro behind the Brazilian defense. The Barcelona man was in on goal, placed the ball beautifully around goalkeeper Julio Cesar and looked sure to tie the game up at one.
However, Brazil's David Luiz came up with one of the best defensive plays in the tournament, and probably saved the game for Brazil.
Omg, David Luiz's goal line save was brilliant.— Ramadhan Siron (@rmdhnsrn) July 1, 2013
Now, this wouldn't have been a proper final if the player of the tournament did not have a say in his team's performance. Thus, just moments after David Luiz saved the scoreline for Brazil, Neymar got in on the action in the 44th minute, doubling his side's advantage.
Neymar in the Confederations Cup: 1 goal vs Japan 1 goal and 1 assist vs Mexico 1 goal vs Italy 1 assist vs Uruguay 1 goal so far vs Spain— FCBarcelona (@BarcaStat) June 30, 2013
Neymar showed his maturity with that goal, as he checked back his run and was able to drill the ball home with a powerful left-foot strike. Heading into next summer's World Cup, it is safe to say that Brazil will go only as far as Neymar will take them.
The night only got worse for Spain. Useless was their typical tiki-taka style of play, as they barely seemed to create any scoring opportunities after halftime.
Minutes after halftime, Fred scored again on a wonderfully placed shot after a tremendous move by Brazil, and essentially put the game out of reach for Spain.
2 - Fred is the 1st player to score a brace against Iker Casillas in a competitive game vs Spain since Mphela for South Africa in 2009. Blow— OptaJose (@OptaJose) June 30, 2013
It was Fred's fifth goal of the tournament, tying him with Fernando Torres for tops of the Confederations Cup.
Despite one of their poorest performances in recent memory, Spain got a chance to pull a goal back and restore some pride to their team after Jesus Navas was fouled by Marcelo in the box, resulting in a penalty kick for Spain.
However, Spain's night only got more embarrassing. Centre-back Sergio Ramos stepped up to the spot and missed wide left with his shot, failing to even test Julio Cesar.
I hope Spain learned to not let Sergio Ramos take a penalty. Ever.— Santiago Zapata (@SantiDeCali) July 1, 2013
With players like Xavi and Andres Iniesta on the field, it is a real mystery as to why Ramos, who doesn't have the greatest penalty kick history, took the penalty for Spain with his side down 3-0.
Things went from bad to worse for Spain after Gerard Pique was sent off after a silly foul on Neymar, who was bearing down on goal.
Brazil looked sure to put in at least one more goal, but in the end, had to settle for a three-goal margin over Spain. With the win, Brazil locked up their third consecutive Confederations Cup title.
The final was a fitting way to end this summer's tournament.
Now, after witnessing one of the most intense and passionate tournaments in recent memory, the world awaits next summer's World Cup, and the speculation over whether or not Brazil can win trophies in back-to-back summers begins.