Brilliant Brazil handed out a footballing lesson to the world soccer supremos Spain in the final of the Confederations Cup.
Brazil beat Spain 3-1 to win and looked in command from the first to final whistle.
Within the first five minutes, Fred hooked the ball over the line while lying in the Spanish six yard box to score the first goal after a scramble among the defenders.
That goal was met by a deafening roar from Brazils 100,000 supporters standing should-to-shoulder in the bright, new Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The match was a big deal for both sides.
Spain – reigning World Champions and reigning double European Champions wanted the treble. That’s a triumph never attempted before and an opportunity unlikely to come around for many teams in this lifetime or the next. Ranked number one in the world.
Brazil – Languishing in the doldrums by their own high standards, with a ranking of just 14 in the world. That was mainly due to a lack of competitive football in recent years as Brazil is hosting the next world cup and qualify by right without having to play off against other teams.
Entering the match, everyone knew something had to give.
Spain had lost twice in their last 60 competitive matches. Brazil had won their last 24 on home soil.
The trouble for Spain is they have shown a determined team can knock them off their game.
Italy did so in the semi-final, coming close to winning and only going out 7-6 on penalties after a 0-0 draw.
Brazil hustled and harried the Spaniards off their controlled passing and broke up the rhythm they so like to set.
Spain looked confused and out of sorts.
Brazil played the football game they wanted. At their pace and with their midfield calling all the tunes.
Neymar slotted a superb shot into the roof of the net just before half time to confirm Brazil’s superiority.
After the break was a disaster for Spain. Fred scored again minutes in to the second period, Ramos missed a penalty moments later and then Gerard Pique was red-carded for bringing down a clear-through Neymar with 22 minutes left to play.
Man of the match was difficult to call. Brazil’s David Luiz had one of his best games at international level dominating the defence. Powerhouse Marcello also had a huge influence on the left side of midfield.
One bad result does not mean Spain are flops, but the writing could be on the wall for their current crop of stars and the way they play.
For Brazil, the team can only improve between now and the world cup, and with home advantage they are probably the ones to watch – along with fast-emerging Italy who took third place in the contest beating Uruguay on penalties.