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Past vs present in a glimpse of future

Five-time world beaters Brazil face reigning champions Spain in final of 2014 WC warmup event

Brazilians aren’t hiding how much they admire Spain’s national team,how good the World Champions are and how difficult it is to play against them. But make no mistake,they say,that doesn’t mean they’ll fear Spain when the teams meet in the Confederations Cup final on Sunday at the Maracana.

In a match everyone has been hoping to see,the hosts will be trying to win their third-straight title in the World Cup warm-up competition,and fourth overall,while Spain will be looking for their fourth major trophy in five years.

Nearly every Brazilian player who has talked about Spain has praised the world and European champions,acknowledging that they are the best team in the world today. But they guarantee Brazil will be ready to make the home fans proud.”We just have to play football,we can’t be afraid,” Brazil striker Neymar said Friday. “We know Spain is the best team in the world and that they have the best players in the world. We respect them and I admire them a lot,but when the match starts we have full confidence that we can play well to beat them and win the title for our fans.”

Brazil and Spain haven’t played since a 1999 scoreless draw in a friendly. “It’s tough to wait for a match like this,” Neymar said.

Brazil won their fifth World Cup title in 2002,but recently it’s Spain who have been the dominant team in international football. Yet to win the Confederations Cup,Spain have nearly the same squad that won the World Cup,while Brazil has only three players left over from its disappointing participation in South Africa.

“Everybody knows how good they are,” Brazil defensive midfielder Luiz Gustavo said. “But we are not afraid of having to play them.”

‘Not invincible’

Spain haven’t lost in 26 matches,since a 1-0 result England in London in 2011. But they struggled against Italy in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup this year and only made it through to the final by edging the European rivals 7-6 in a penalty shootout.

“The match against Italy showed that Spain can be beaten,” Brazil assistant coach Carlos Alberto Parreira said.

Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari added: “We respect their quality,but we will go after the victory. We reached the final just as they did and we can beat them.”

Brazil,trying to become the first team to win a FIFA tournament for the third-straight time,had their first practice in Rio de Janeiro on Friday.

Defensive midfielder Paulinho,who scored a late winner to give the team a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in the semifinal on Wednesday,was rested because he woke up with flu-like symptoms. He is expected to play in Sunday’s final.

Touch line

Under-fire FIFA to give $100mn to Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO: FIFA president Sepp Blatter responded on Friday to criticism of the cost of staging the World Cup in Brazil by pledging to give at least $100 million from profits back to the country. World football’s governing body gave South Africa $100 million to invest in development projects after the 2010 WC,but had not previously pledged a similar “social fund” after the 2014 tournament to Brazil. The Confederations Cup has been marred by protesters denouncing billions of dollars spent to host the World Cup.

“We have left a legacy (in South Africa),a special fund of $100 million,this fund is controlled by the Football (Association) of (South) Africa,the government of South Africa and FIFA,’’ Blatter said. “I am sure an amount like that,or even higher,will be possible to have here … the aim from FIFA is not to take profit out of the country,but to put into the country.’’ Blatter said he can “understand this social unrest’’ that has rocked Brazil while the tournament has been taking place.

Record TV viewership for Confed Cup

TV audiences around the world have been watching the Confederations Cup in record numbers,FIFA said on Saturday. This week’s semifinals both set viewing records. Wednesday’s semi-final between Brazil and Uruguay drew an audience of more than 53.5 million across nine global TV markets,a record for the tournament. Spain’s shootout win over Italy on Thursday drew the biggest Italian TV audience for a sporting event since last year’s European Championship final.

Neymar,Iniesta among Golden ball nominees

Brazil forward Neymar is among six players nominated for the Golden Ball award that is handed to the best player at the Confederations Cup. Midfielder Paulinho,who headed in the winner from Neymar’s corner in the semifinal,also makes the shortlist. Two Spanish players have been nominated: midfielder Andres Iniesta and defender Sergio Ramos. Italy’s midfielder Andrea Pirlo and Uruguay striker Luis Suarez were also selected by FIFA’s technical study group.

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