Brazil 3-0 Spain: Spain unable to cope with Brazil’s pace and power on the break

July 1, 2013
Brazil 3-0 Spain: Spain unable to cope with Brazil’s pace and power on the break

Brazil won the Confederations Cup at the Maracana after a convincing demolition of the world champions.

Luis Felipe Scolari stuck with his usual side – in five games he only deviated from this XI once, when Paulinho wasn’t 100% fit for the final group game.

Vicente Del Bosque brought in Juan Mata on the left of his 4-3-3 system, but otherwise the side was unchanged.

Brazil yet again started superbly – but Spain failed to mount a significant fightback. Read more »

Spain 0-0 Italy: a lopsided tactical battle but an evenly-balanced game

June 28, 2013
Spain 0-0 Italy: a lopsided tactical battle but an evenly-balanced game

Spain progressed on penalties after an intriguing stalemate.

Vicente Del Bosque recalled Fernando Torres and David Silva to play in the front three.

Cesare Prandelli was without Mario Balotelli and Ignazio Abate through injury, and Riccardo Montolivo wasn’t 100% fit. Therefore, he switched to a 3-4-2-1ish formation, using an all-Juventus backline and introducing Alberto Gilardino upfront.

This was a long, drawn-out match of many phases – Italy dominated the opening, the second half was more even, then Spain were the better side in extra-time. Read more »

Brazil 2-1 Uruguay: Brazil through to the final after substitutes help increase the pressure

June 27, 2013
Brazil 2-1 Uruguay: Brazil through to the final after substitutes help increase the pressure

Brazil weren’t on top form, but Paulinho’s late header sends them through to the final.

Luiz Felipe Scolari brought back Paulinho after injury kept the Tottenham target out of the victory over Italy – so Hernanes dropped to the bench.

Having changed his entire side for the win over Tahiti, Oscar Tabarez reverted to the side that defeated Nigeria.

This was a disappointing match in technical sense, with none of the attacking players sparkling, although it was interesting in tactical sense. Read more »

Spain 3-0 Nigeria: Alba & Pedro crucial in a more direct match than Spain are accustomed to

June 25, 2013
Spain 3-0 Nigeria: Alba & Pedro crucial in a more direct match than Spain are accustomed to

Nigeria were more adventurous than the majority of Spain’s opponents, but they left plenty of space for the World Champions to break into.

After changing almost his entire team for the thrashing of Tahiti, Vicente del Bosque returned to the outfield side that defeated Uruguay, although Victor Valdes was in goal.

Stephen Keshi brought back Sunday Mba in a straight swap for John Ogu, while Joseph Akpala started upfront with Ideye Brown moving to the flank.

This wasn’t a typical Spain match – the play flowed from end to end very quickly, and both sides had plenty of chances. Read more »

Brazil 4-2 Italy: Brazil run riot after half-time

June 24, 2013
Brazil 4-2 Italy: Brazil run riot after half-time

This match took more than 45 minutes to get going, but it turned into a fantastic end-to-end contest.

Luis Felipe Scolari brought Hernanes into his side at the expensive of Paulinho, but otherwise his starting XI was unchanged.

Cesare Prandelli was without Andrea Pirlo so Alberto Aquilani came into the side, while Leonardo Bonucci, Antonio Candreva and Alessandro Diamanti were all given starts in a rough 4-4-1-1 / 4-2-3-1 system.

The first half was dreadful, but Brazil took charge in the second half and fully deserved their victory. Read more »

Uruguay 2-1 Nigeria: Tabarez switches to a back three, then to a back four, then to a back five

June 21, 2013
Uruguay 2-1 Nigeria: Tabarez switches to a back three, then to a back four, then to a back five

Diego Forlan hit the winner on his 100th international appearance, as Uruguay unconvincingly defeated Nigeria.

After a terrible performance against Spain, Oscar Tabarez brought back Diego Forlan into his starting XI, completely changed his midfield duo, and switched to a back three.

Stephen Keshi swapped his two central attackers – Ideye Brown replaced Anthony Ujah, and John Ogu came in for Sunday Mba.

Uruguay were a little fortunate to win this one – over the course of the game they hardly outplayed Nigeria, although they unquestionably had more quality in the final third. Read more »

Italy 4-3 Japan: Italy start terribly but Prandelli makes an early change to prompt a comeback

June 21, 2013
Italy 4-3 Japan: Italy start terribly but Prandelli makes an early change to prompt a comeback

Italy were rather fortunate to win an amazingly open match.

Against Mexico, Italy were superb down the left but disappointing down the right, so Cesare Prandelli kept the left flank intact and changed two players on the right of his 4-3-2-1 – Christian Maggio replaced Ignazio Abate, while Alberto Aquilani came in for Claudio Marchisio.

Alberto Zaccheroni, up against his home country, brought in Ryoichi Maeda upfront, moved Shinji Okazaki to the right, and dropped Hiroshi Kiyotake.

Japan were excellent in the first half hour, but a combination of Prandelli’s substitution and a crazy, end-to-end game somehow let Italy back in. Read more »

Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

June 20, 2013
Brazil 2-0 Mexico: Brazil start strongly but fade

The opening suggested Brazil would win comfortably – but they spent the majority of the second half clinging onto a one-goal lead.

Luiz Felipe Scolari kept the same XI that defeated Japan in the opening game.

On the right flank, Jose Manuel de la Torre stuck with the duo that ended the defeat to Italy – Gerardo Flores on the wing and Hiram Mier at full-back, with winger Javier Aquino on the bench. Carlos Salcido switched from left-back to the centre of midfield, with Jorge Nilo coming into the side.

Brazil started ferociously and pinned Mexico back into their own half, but their overall performance was disappointing. Read more »

Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

June 18, 2013
Spain 2-1 Uruguay: Del Bosque changes his midfield structure, Uruguay are disorganised

Spain’s level of dominance should have resulted in a much more emphatic victory.

Xabi Alonso is unavailable for the Confederations Cup because of injury, and in his absence Vicente del Bosque changed the structure of his side, using Sergio Busquets as the sole holder, moving Xavi Hernandez into the role he plays at Barcelona, and introducing Cesc Fabregas as a number ten who could drive forward at the opposition defence. Roberto Soldado played upfront.

Oscar Tabarez left Diego Forlan on the bench, with Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez upfront. Gaston Ramirez and Cristian Rodriguez were the attacking midfielders, with Walter Gargano in the middle.

Spain’s possession dominance was astonishing in the first period, as Uruguay struggled to get out of their own half. Read more »

Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

June 18, 2013
Italy 2-1 Mexico: Italy excel down the left flank

Italy dominated for the majority of the match, and Mario Balotelli was a fitting matchwinner.

Cesare Prandelli selected a 4-3-2-1 system, using Juventus duo Claudio Marchisio and Emanuele Giaccherini behind lone striker Balotelli.

Mexico coach Jose Manuel de la Torre used a standard 4-2-3-1 system, playing Giovani dos Santos behind Javier Hernandez.

Mexico had some bright moments, particularly through the lively Dos Santos – but Italy were the better side, and created more goalscoring opportunities. Read more »