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There’s nothing like a memorable final to paper over the cracks of a tournament.

In many ways, the 2013 Confederations Cup provided more questions than answers ahead of next summer’s World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Spain: Victorious Neymar lifts the Confederations Cup

Brazil 3-0 Spain: Victorious Neymar lifts the Confederations Cup

Off-the-field protests have marred the contests, but on the field, there has been some scintillating action. It ended with Brazil zooming past the World Champions Spain 3-0 to retain the title the won four years ago in South Africa. Here is our review of the tournament:

Hosts Brazil did not disappoint home expectations as they cruised through Group A with three straight wins, scoring nine goals in the process before edging South American Champions Uruguay 2-1 in the semi-final.

However, it was in the final against Spain that we saw the best of the Seleção. Two goals from Fred and a stunning Neymar finish saw Brazil claim their third straight Confederations Cup title (and fourth overall) in emphatic fashion, as they dismantled Spain 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

Fred and Neymar, who topped the final Castrol Index rankings and seized the Golden Ball respectively were key figures in Brazil’s triumph. Same as David Luiz, Julio Cesar and Tottenham bound Paulinho.

Spain's Pedro celebrates with Xavi, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets v Uruaguay

Spain’s Pedro celebrates with Xavi, Sergio Ramos and Sergio Busquets

It was a bitter pill to swallow for Spain who also topped their group undefeated, annihilating Tahiti 10-0 in the process. The Spaniards went on to edge Italy on penalties in the semis, before they were handed their heaviest defeat in a competitive match for 18 years in the final – a 3-0 loss to Brazil at the magnificent Maracana.

Spain’s loss was reminiscent of the 7-0 demolition of Barcelona by Bayern Munich as they were outfought and out-pressed on Sunday, just like the Catalan club in the Champions League, and major changes are now needed ahead of the World Cup next year.

“I won’t make excuses – they were better than us and that is that. Sometimes it’s convenient to lose so you don’t think you’re unbeatable” – Spain coach Vicente del Bosque.

Mario Balotelli celebrates with Italian team mates

Mario Balotelli celebrates with Italian team mates

Italy should be content with bronze after a dogged performance saw them pip Uruguay on penalties. However, improvement must be made especially in defensive areas – as they were uncharacteristically sloppy at the back, leaking ten goals in 5 matches – if they are to stand a chance in next year’s World cup.

Andres Guadardo, Javier Hernandez and Javier Rodrigues celebrate for Mexico

Andres Guadardo, Javier Hernandez and Javier Rodrigues celebrate for Mexico

CONCACAF representatives Mexico were unlucky to lose their opening two group matches to Italy and Brazil respectively. However, they had reason to cheer in their final outing, a 1-0 win over Asian Champions Japan who on the other hand lost all three games and finished bottom of the group.

Tahiti celebrate Jonathan Tehau's unforgettable goal v Nigeria

Tahiti celebrate Jonathan Tehau’s unforgettable goal v Nigeria

OFC nations cup winners Tahiti were the whipping boys of the tournament, conceding a whooping 24 goals and scoring only one against Nigeria. However, they still gloried in defeat thus earning everyone’s respect and appreciation as this is the beautiful part of the game.

Tahiti 1-6 Nigeria: Nnamdi Oduamadi celebrates his hat-trick

Tahiti 1-6 Nigeria: Nnamdi Oduamadi celebrates his hat-trick

The Super Eagles of Nigeria almost missed out of the showpiece after a dispute with their federation, and suffered an early elimination after losing to Uruguay and Spain respectively – mainly because they lacked a cutting edge in the attack.

Overall, Brazil were worthy winners and about the only consolation for the other nations is the fact that no Confederations Cup winner has gone on to lift the World Cup. Brazil romped to the title of this event four years ago, beating the USA in the final, yet failed miserably to produce the goods the following year in South Africa. Indeed, if history is any indication, Brazil might well have been advised not to walk away with this trophy. But the Brazilians just couldn’t help themselves, for as they proved once more on Sunday in scoring three unanswered goals, winning is in their blood.

My team of the tournament

GK Julio Cesar, Brazil – The 33-year-old shot stopper was brilliant for his country, helping the Selecao keep back-to-back clean sheets in their opening two group games before saving a crucial penalty in the semi-final with Uruguay. He also played a starring role in the final against Spain.

RB Dani Alves, Brazil – the Barcelona full back was ever present in his sides starting XI and complemented the team with his tireless running and tackling.

CB David Luiz, Brazil – There have been doubts about the Chelsea man defensive abilities, but then the imposing central defender did his reputation a lot of good on the strength of his performances in this tournament.

CB Gerard Pique, Spain – Always commanding at the back, Pique was key in the La Furia Roja defence and deserves his place in this line up despite being sent off in the final.

LB Jordi Alba, Spain – He gave a solid performance throughout the tournament and even scored two goals as his side defeated African Champions Nigeria 3-0 in the final Group B game.

M Paulinho, Brazil – A remarkable couple of weeks for the player who has being touted with a move to Europe this summer. He scored a late winner against Uruguay in the semis to send his side into the final.

M: Andrea Pirlo, Italy – Outstanding throughout the tournament as Italy finished in third place. Highly influential in the victory over Japan in the opening match for both sides, the Juventus man further cemented his status as his country’s most important player.

AM, Andres Iniesta, Spain – The Barcelona midfielder was in superb form throughout the tournament in Brazil. He was behind all of Spain’s best moves carving out openings for team-mates.

AM Emanuele Giaccherini, Italy – He may not be the most glamorous member of the Italy squad but his performances have shown him to be an absolutely key member of Cesare Prandelli’s side, constantly threatening opponents’ goals and even scoring a crucial goal against Brazil although they went on to lose the game 4-2.

AM Neymar, Brazil – Awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s most outstanding player. Undoubtedly the star of the show, Neymar silenced his critics (including me) producing a moment of magic in each of the Seleção’s five matches to help inspire his side to glory.

CF Fred, Brazil – The former Olympique Lyonnais frontman proved doubters wrong as he scored five goals to finish joint top scorer alongside Spain’s Fernando Torres.

Originally published at voomfootball.wordpress.com

Post written by Voom Football
Blog: Voom Football, Twitter: @Voomfootball

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