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Dream final is set: Brazil-Spain
by Paul Kennedy, June 27th, 2013 10:44PM

TAGS:  confederations cup, italy, spain


[CONFEDERATIONS CUP] For organizers, the Confederations Cup has gone according to form on the field. Spain's shootout win over Italy sets up a dream final Sunday at Rio de Janeiro's Maracana Stadium: host Brazil, the two-time defending champion, against Spain, shooting for its four title in the last six years. But they'd never have imagined the problems off the field. Protests continued into a third week, and the largest demonstration is expected Sunday on the route to Maracana.

Like Brazil, Spain had cruised into the semifinals with three wins by a margin of 15-1 but found things tougher when it got to the next-to-last hurdle.

Playing against Italy, which it had beaten, 4-0, only last year to win Euro 2012, Spain could only manage a scoreless draw after 120 minutes before winning, 7-6, on penalty kicks.

Even without injured star Mario Balotelli, Italy put pressure on Spain. Emanuele Giaccherini hit the post in the 93rd minute, while Xavi's shot for Spain was deflected off the post by Italy keeper Gianluigi Buffon in the 115th.

In the shootout, both teams went 6-for-6 before Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci missed over the bar, and Jesus Navas scored the winner for Spain.

“They put a system in place that really complicated things for us,” said Spain goalie Iker Casillas. “Italy was well organized, with two fullbacks who attack a lot, get  forward and come into the center. I’m convinced that Brazil won’t play like that. The whole world wanted to see a Brazil-Spain final, and in the end the two teams who are there are the ones who deserve it. It’s basically a curtain-raiser for the World Cup, and  everyone who loves soccer will agree that it should be a great match.”  

Italy had the majority of the support of the more than 56,000 fans on hand for the semifinal at Fortaleza's Estadio Castelao.

"We played a great match,'' Italy coach Cesare Prandelli said. "We created and we conceded but we were always in the match. They're still ahead of us but we're improving. In these conditions, between absences and fatigue, it's nearly impossible to go all the way, but the guys really moved me."

July 27 in Fortaleza
Spain 0 Italy 0 (Spain wins 7-6 on penalties).
Spain -- Casillas: Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Jordi Alba; Busquets; Pedro (Mata 79), Xavi, Iniesta, David Silva (Navas, 52); Fernando Torres (Javi Martinez 94).
Italy -- Buffon; Barzagli (Montolivo, 46), Bonucci, Chiellini; Maggio, Pirlo, De Rossi, Giaccherini; Marchisio (Aquilani, 79), Candreva; Gilardino (Giovinco, 91).
Referee: Howard Webb (England).
Att.: 56,083.

  1. cisco martinez
    commented on: June 27, 2013 at 11:21 p.m.
    Can't wait for brazil-Spain final. Look at both these teams and read what brad friedel said in the SA interview...Technique, technique, technique.
  1. Carl Hudson
    commented on: June 28, 2013 at 8:45 a.m.
    A very watchable and exciting nil-nil game after 120 minutes. Both teams comported themselves well in the penalty shootout, decided (unfortunately) by a "Baggio" error - kicking a penalty shot high. When will these professionals learn there are only two places for a penalty shot: LOW left or LOW right (unless you are a Pirlo who has the skill to make a swerving center shot with the keeper diving).
  1. Gus Keri
    commented on: June 28, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
    Good for you Carl. Go teach those stupid professionals. LOL. These were some of the best PKs ever taken.
  1. Kent James
    commented on: June 28, 2013 at 10:48 a.m.
    Gus, you're right about the quality of the PKs. Most were superb. Unfortunate for Bonucci, and his case is why PKs are such a harsh way to determine a winner. At this level, I'd rather see them take kicks from the 18 (or maybe even the arc) so that goalkeepers never had to guess (eliminating the Pirlo chip-type goal, which, much as I like Pirlo, is just cruel to keepers). I think this might lead to many strong shots and great saves. Then only great shots would score, rather than either keeper errors (guessing wrong) or luck (guessing right), or shooting errors (missing the goal) determining the winners. A win should celebrate good play, rather than highlighting mistakes.
  1. Ramon Creager
    commented on: June 28, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.
    Gus, exactly right. Great PKs, neither keeper got a hand on any of them. That's 13 of 14 top-drawer PKs; you'll rarely see this. To PK haters: after 120 minutes of even soccer, as good a way to settle it as any. Enjoy the spectacle. One thing that could decrease the number of games that go to PKs is to liberalize substitutions for extra time (as Jogo Bonito proposed in another thread). Why not, for example, allow the coach to send out as many unused subs from the sub bench as he wants at the start of extra time? This would, of course, favor the deeper team, but the point of the contest is to decide the better team in any case.

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