Five key battles as Spain face Brazil in mouth-watering Confederations Cup final

Maracana Inside Italy Mexico Confederations Cup

We take a look over the teams ahead of tonights finale.

It is the dream final that we all wanted to see; Brazil and Spain will face off in the Confederations Cup Final with a late night kick off sure to see some eyes even blearier then usual on a Monday morning.

So where will this game be won and lost?

Neymar v Alvaro Arbeloa

Neymar came into this competition with some points to prove as many questioned his ability after recent abject performances in the litany of international friendlies Selecao have had to play in order to remain competitive ahead of the World Cup that they host in 2014.

But he has showed why Barca have splurged such a large sum on his services this summer with an excellent tournament.

Arbeloa will sure have to get used to Neymar for El Clasico meetings next term but if Neymar can use his trickery and deception to get beyond the right-full back tonight then Spain’s dream of a third major international competition win in succession could be heavily scrutinised.

Dani Alves v Jordi Alba

The two Barcelona full-backs are usually used to charioting down the opposite flanks in tandem at the Nou Camp but tonight they will be up against each other in the Maracana.

Alba has undoubtedly been one of the competitions best players but if any full-back can force him back with his own attacking fluency it will be his club-mate on the right hand side.

An intriguing battle and whoever controls this flank could decide the winner of the fixture.

Paulinho v Xavi

If I had to say who has been the best player in the tournament I would be hard pushed to choose between these two.

Xavi has played more key passes than anyone else in the competition and is the route to goal for nearly all of Spain’s methodical build-up play.

As for Paulinho; well he has justified the European scramble for his services with a dynamic display in every game he has featured thus far.

But tasked with keeping Xavi under wraps whilst also being asked to lead the charge offensively from midfield will be his hardest mission yet.

Luiz Gustavo v Andres Iniesta

Gustavo is the last line of midfield defence in the Brazil line-up and he will have the unenviable assignment of keeping his eye on Andres Iniesta.

The Barcelona playmaker has been as good as ever in the attacking third during this tournament and it would not be a surprise to see Gustavo hanging on to his every move.

Fred v Sergio Ramos

For me this could be the most intriguing battle and should probably be Fred vs Ramos and Gerard Pique. Because for Brazil to win they need to score goals and the unconventional but ruthless striker will obviously be key to that. Against the Madrid and Barca pairing he will have to ruffle some feathers and when those chances fall at his feet; he will have to put them away unlike the Italians in the semi-final.

Could he celebrate a move to Shakhtar Donetsk with a goal?

Who do you think will win tonight?

image: © leandrociuffo

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