Did Brazil Complete their Masterful Renaissance a Year Early?
It has all the makings of an incredible sports movie masterpiece. Amid political turmoil and large-scale protests on the streets, the Brazilian soccer team claimed the world’s biggest trophy, for their people, by defeating the world’s best team in stunning and dominating fashion. Brazil thumped Spain yesterday and handed the number 1 ranked team their first competitive loss in years, winning the 2013 Confederations Cup. The fans erupted in joy and Brazil was rightfully crowned as the soccer champions of the world. There’s just one small problem.
It was a year early. Brazil created their wonderful tale of soccer uniting a nation in the Confederations Cup, not the 2014 World Cup. This creates a massive problem for Brazil next summer. They have lost the element of surprise and will have the burden of expectations fully upon their shoulders, though that was going to be the case anyways in all reality.
The recent Confederation Cup tournament in Brazil unfortunately stands for nothing in the soccer world. I recall a similar situation in South Africa in 2009, a year before the 2010 World Cup. America made a startling run in that Confederations Cup tournament, beating Spain 2-0 to reach the final. There, the United States battled Brazil and actually led 2-0 before giving up 3 goals and losing. But America had proven they could play with the big guys, right?
Wrong. America put out a lackluster display in the World Cup, losing in the first knockout round to Ghana. Brazil, the 2009 Confederations Cup champions, was disappointed with a quarterfinal round exit. Meanwhile, Spain won the World Cup and proved their worth.
It is my hunch that Spain doesn’t really come to play at the Confederations Cup. They made silly mistakes all game long and didn’t look a hint of their proud selves. One defender was sent off, while two others were cautioned for challenges that could have been red cards. Offensively, the team looked as if they were going through the motions, never pressuring and often giving up the ball. Sergio Ramos even missed a PK!
While certainly these points could suggest that Brazil was the reason for Spain’s troubles, I feel that a rematch next summer would be an entirely different game. And in a frightening way, I offer a suggestion to the Spanish nation for a way that they could essentially derail the Brazilian title hopes.
Neymar, the Brazilian sensation, who mesmerized everyone this past month, has just signed for Barcelona. There is no doubt that Neymar leads this Brazilian team, as his tricky moves and powerful shots have shown. Barcelona also is the team that Lionel Messi plays for, and we all know how many people have felt that the upcoming World Cup is Messi’s best hope to solidify his legend along the lines of Diego Maradona.
Perhaps Barcelona will bench both players all year long, ruining their form ahead of the World Cup to give the Spanish a clear path to glory? No, they will do something far worse. Neymar and Messi should expect to play every minute of every game they can manage, thus pushing the players to their brink, and exhausting them ahead of the World Cup. Meanwhile, the Spanish players will rotate their playing time and focus on the tournament ahead. Sure it’s a conspiracy theory of bits, but it all sets up logically for Spain’s pre-World Cup plans.
Nevertheless, Brazil has proved that they are capable of being the world’s best team, but they will need to prove it again next year when the games actually matter. The Confederations Cup is nothing but a dress rehearsal, over glorified by ESPN. Brazil may conquer the soccer world next season, but I think Spain will be putting up a much stronger fight in round 2!