Brazilians arent hiding how much they admire Spains national team,how good the World Champions are and how difficult it is to play against them. But make no mistake,they say,that doesnt mean theyll 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 cant 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 havent played since a 1999 scoreless draw in a friendly. Its tough to wait for a match like this, Neymar said.
Brazil won their fifth World Cup title in 2002,but recently its 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.
Spain havent 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 Sundays final.
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