In a competition dubbed the ‘Festival of Champions’, it was fitting that the four semi-finalists were all previous winners of the FIFA World Cup. The results of the group stage gave us an all-South American powerhouse matchup between Brazil and Uruguay and a European classic between the last two World Cup Champions, Italy (2006) and Spain (2010). Both semi-finals proved to be great games.
The all South American match up of Brazil and Uruguay between Uruguay started well for Uruguay as they were awarded a penalty kick in the first 10 minutes only to have Uruguayan forward Diego Forlan miss the chance as Brazilian goalie Julio Cesar made an easy save. Brazilian midfielder Fred scored in the 40th minute on a cross. Poor defending by Brazil allowed Uruguayan forward Cavani to tie the game only to have Brazilian forward Paulhino score on a corner kick in the 86th minute to win the game and advance Brazil to the Championship.
The all European match up of Italy and Spain proved scoreless through regulation and extra time. Spain advanced 7-6 in penalty kicks as Italian Bonucci’s penalty kick sailed over the goal and Spain’s Jesus Nava buried his kick to send Spain to the final against Brazil.
Never a big fan of the third place game FIFA has in their tournaments, the third place game between Italy and Uruguay proved to be the best of the tournament. Italy scored first only to have Uruguay answer right back and then both teams scored on terrific free kicks first by Italy’s Diamanti than by Uruguay’s Cavani to tie the game up at 2-2 and send it to overtime. With no score in overtime the game went to penalty kicks where Uruguay just could not find the back of the net and Italian keeper Buffon came up big as Italy won 3-1 in penalty kicks.
The Confederations Cup 2013 in Brazil concluded with the dream matchup everybody wanted of the young, stylish, and entertaining Brazilian squad versus the total football of World Cup Champions, Spain. Unfortunately the dream matchup turned into a nightmare for Spain as they were beat down by much younger and quicker Brazilian squad led by Neymar and Fred 3-0 in the championship.
Brazilian midfielder, Fred scored in the first minute and a half of the game as he lay on the ground in front of Spain’s goal he managed to kick it past Spain’s stellar keeper, Castillas, who was also on the ground and had a very unstellar game. Neymar added a beautiful strike in the 40th minute to give him four goals for the tournament and Fred added another goal in the 47th minute to virtually seal the game. Although Spain had its chances as Barcelona forward, Pedro beat Brazil’s keeper, Julio Cesar, only to have the Brazilian diving slide to keep the ball out of the net. Spanish defender Sergio Ramos missed a penalty kick that sailed wide in the second half that should have given Spain a badly needed goal.
Brazil proved they are definitely a team to be reckoned with in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and Spain definitely showed their age in the only major tournament this great, but aging team has never won. By the way those following the United States in qualifying for the World Cup 2014, the U.S. is in first place with four games to go and has an excellent chance of not only qualifying, but winning their group.