The Confederations Cup proves to be not such a meaningless competition after all 01/07/13

A suprisingly thrilling Confedarations Cup concludes with a win for the hosts over the World Champions

Brazil triumphed over reigning World and European champions Spain last night with a convincing 3-0 win. It could be said that it was a much needed win for the Brazilians with the tensions off the pitch creating many of the headlines during the competition. The Samba team did not disappoint the expectant nation with a dominant performance restricting Spain to minimal chances.

Fred and particularly Neymar once again impressed, sharing the goals between them. It certainly wasn’t the final that Football entusiasts were expecting but nonetheless it still turned out to be a memorable spectacle as Spain succumbed to their first defeat in 29 competitive matches.

Jumping the Gun

Straight after the final whistle blew on the final, there were already mentions on Twitter, and Footballing websites that Spain’s dominance and their golden era was over. What a load of nonsense! Admittedly they didn’t look themselves against Brazil and were punished, and were pushed to the brink by an Italy side that they thrashed just a year ago in the European Championship Final. However any suggestions that Spain are no longer a major force are premature. You just have to look at the depth in their squad, and the up and coming players in the Under 20 European Championship winning Spain side from this summer, to see that there is certainly a chance they can continue to be win the top honours in International Football. This combined with their Football philosophy of high pressing play, shows that on their day they could still beat any other country. Perhaps Vincente Del Bosque will have to tweak a few things to ensure his team evolves, but it would take a very brave man to bet against Spain at least reaching the final of the World Cup next year.

The Underdogs

The four semi finalists; Brazil, Italy, Spain, and Uruguay provided no shocks in reaching that stage. It would of been a surpises if one had not made it past the group stages. However that is not to say the other 4 teams were below par, and pushed the favourites close a few times.

Tahiti were a major talking point in the competition, mostly with people speculating how many goals teams could manage to score against them. Robbie Savage said “Having poor teams like Tahiti devalues the competition”.  Well Robbie, Tahiti were there by right, and deserved their moment having won the Oceania Football Nations Championship in 2002. The winners of this competition will always qualify for the Confederations Cup and whilst they will not be the standard of the European winners they will still form an important part of the competition.

Tahiti did not disgrace themselves in the competition and they were an intriguing team to watch. Fascinatingly their squad contained 4 players all from the same family; the Tehau’s. It was a Tehau of the Jonathan variety that scored Tahiti’s one and only goal of the competition coming against Nigeria who themselves showed Football in the African continent is continuing to improve. Despite later going on to score an own goal himself, and losing the game 6-1, Tehau’s goal will live long in the memory of players and fans alike. A great moment for the country and the celebrations duly reflected this. Despite Tahiti going onto lose their next game 10-0 against Spain a missed penalty from Fernado Torres lead to further celebration from the fans and more particularly the Goalkeeper Xavier Samin. Samin celebrating as if he had scored a goal himself, despite not actually saving the penalty, with Torres missing the target completely. Surely a highlight in Samin’s career and probably his life.

Steevy Chong Hue – a name not that well known in the world of Football, but this man certainly stood out for Tahiti and made sure all the opposition defences were on their game. He particularly gave Celtic and Nigeria’s Efe Ambrose a tough time. In their 8-0 defeat to Uruguay Steevy completed more dribbles than Gaston Ramirez, Alvaro Pereira and Abel Hernandez. He also had a pass completion rate of 92% in the competition. Hopefully he can progress from here and perhaps secure a move from AS Dragon to a bigger club. If he was just known as Steevy and came from Brazil he would probably be snapped up in no time. I hope his nationality does not hinder him in his Football career. It never stopped Georgi Kinkladze and George Weah.

Mexico found themselves in a tough group with Brazil, Japan and Italy. However in their first game they very nearly grabbed a draw against Italy, but ‘Super’ Mario Balotelli scored a late winner. They managed to finish 3rd in the group after an enterrtaining 2-1 victory against Japan.

Japan found themselves very unlcuky propping up the group, especially after their performance against Italy. In what was one of the most entertaining matches that  I had seen all year, Italy edged out a very attacking Japanese side 4-3. Japan played a brillaint game and showed at times a beautiful range of passing with 349 passes attempted in Italy’s half. Their gung ho approach paid off initially taking a 2-0 lead after half an hour. Italy fought back and found themselves in front remarkably after 5 minutes. Japan did not give up though and at times they stretched the usual resilient Italian defence wide open. Shinji Kagawa and Sheinsuke Honda were able to find gaps throughout the Italy backline. Shinji Okasaki also proved to be a thorn in Italy’s defence constanly causing problems. It was that man who got the equalis.ing goal. However it was to end in tears with Italy grabbing the seventh goal of the game via the penalty spot. Japan almost secured a point which was the least they deserved, after hitting the crossbar and then having a goal disallowed.

Despite not progressing any further, this display showed that there is a huge potential for the Japanese team, and Honda in particular will find himself a wanted man this summer, being available on a free transfer.

The Fruition of  a Blossoming Young Talent

It would be an understatement to say that that has been much talk of Neymar being a star of the game. Having seen him myself first hand at a Brazil U23 v Great Britain U23 game last year at the Riverside Stadium, I thought that there was perhaps too much hype surrounding this young man. After seeing further performances against England within the last year, I came to the conclusion dare I say it, that the 21-year-old was overrated.

Wow, how I and I’m sure many others were hugely proved wrong. This man has got talent, and he showed it within the first few minutes of the competition, scoring a cracking volley which flew into the top corner against Japan. He then went on to score a free kick against Mexico, and his overall performances showed exactly why Barcelona have paid a reported £48 million. The combination of Neymar and Lionel Messi in a Barcelona frontline is a mouth-watering prospects for all Football fans. How they might fit into Barcelona’s tactics and lineup is intriguing as they could be described as similar to each other. Either way Neymar is now in the best place he could be to develop his game and go on to be a huge star for both club and country.

After his first season at Barca he will have the hopes and expectations of 196 million Brazilians on his shoulders hoping he can secure the World Cup trophy for the host nation. Based on this competition, he has a very good chance of doing that.

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