It is the last day of the FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 and two mouth-watering matches are on the programme, each of them a prestige clash between South America and Europe.
Proceedings begin with Copa America champions Uruguay versus UEFA EURO 2012 runners-up Italy in the match for third place. The fixture would undoubtedly have made a worthy final, and the game in Salvador is redolent with history as well, featuring the nations who locked out the first four editions of the FIFA World Cup™, with Uruguay claiming the world crown in 1930 and 1950, and Italy in 1934 and 1938.
Six hours later comes the final Brazil and the global footballing family were hoping for, as reigning world and European champions Spain meet the hosts and most successful nation in FIFA World Cup history. It is the first time the Brazilians have faced Spain in 14 years, with the most recent meeting in November 1999 finishing goalless. The pair also faced off at the Maracana during the 1954 FIFA World Cup when the home side handed Spain a 6-1 hiding, the second biggest defeat in the Iberians’ footballing history.
Gold, silver and bronze are on offer to the four remaining teams, and to a handful of their players as well, as the individual awards for the best player, top goalscorer and best keeper are also up for grabs.
Fred (Brazil) v Fernando Torres (Spain)
The finalists’ star strikers are not only accomplished finishers, with Torres on five goals and Fred on three so far, but also supremely effective, as Fred just leads Torres in first and second place in the Castrol Index striker rankings. The deadly duo are in excellent form in Brazil, with both proving they can settle a match on their own. Torres came away from the Roja’s one-sided clash against Tahiti with his first four-goal haul in a red shirt, while Fred is already on seven goals in nine matches under coach Luiz Felipe Scolari.
The expert’s view
"This match is long expected. It's fantastic to have Brazil against Spain in the Maracanã for the FIFA Confederations Cup Final. We've had great games so far and I'm sure it won't be different today. Spain is the defending world champion, has a great team and Iniesta and Xavi can make the difference. But Brazil has had a great campaign in the Confederations Cup, Neymar and Fred are playing very well, and the team has the support of 200 million fans. This Sunday will be a day to remember," Il Fenomeno Ronaldo, former Brazil forward.
The main focus for the watching world is undoubtedly the final, but both Uruguay and Italy are also determined to bow out of the tournament on a winning note. It is a trip down memory lane for Oscar Tabarez, as the Celeste coach has a very special relationship with the Azzurri. In the Round of 16 at the 1990 FIFA World Cup, he watched his team lose 2-0 to the Europeans, but that did not dissuade him from coaching in Italy with Cagliari in 1994/95, AC Milan in 1996, and Cagliari again in 1998/99. Another fact which could inspire the losing semi-finalists is that Spain took bronze at the Festival of Champions in 2009, but went on to win the FIFA World Cup a year later.
Germany 0-2 Brazil, 2002 FIFA World Cup Final, Yokohama International Stadium (Japan)
On this day exactly 11 years ago, Brazil claimed a record fifth FIFA World Cup triumph. Ronaldo, currently a Brazil 2014 ambassador, scored after 67 and 79 minutes of the meeting with the Germans to seal the trophy at the 2002 FIFA World Cup Korea/Japan. Then as now, A Seleção were coached by Luiz Felipe Scolari. Can the man fondly known as Felipão add another prestige trophy to his collection today?
Ibrahim Al Shokia (Saudi Arabia), 38 – played at the FIFA Confederations Cup 1999
Carlos Llamosa (USA), 44 - played at the FIFA Confederations Cup 1999
Ramon (Brazil), 41 - played at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2001
James Bannatyne (New Zealand), 38 - played at the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009