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Thursday, 18 July 2013

Five things we learned from the Confederations Cup

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The warm-up competition for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil may be firmly in the past as we gear up to the new 2013/14 season, but the Confederations Cup gave us plenty of talking points, as well as some great footballing moments.

Here are the five things that we learned from watching the Confederations Cup.

1. Neymar is built for greatness

For those among us who do not have the privilege of watching Brazilian league football, the Confederations Cup offered us a glimpse of the man Barcelona paid an absolute fortune for ... Neymar.

The tricky Brazilian did not disappoint. The goals were nothing short of brilliant, and the link up play with Fred and the midfield was spot on. A fitting audition for the new boy, concluded by an absolute thrashing of the team of the moment Spain, consisting of a number of his new teammates.

2. Spain can be beaten

As touched on above, a Neymar powered Brazil hammered Spain 3-0, and before that the Italians held Spain for 90 minutes plus extra time, the World and European champions needing penalties to progress. What did those two games have in common? The answer, both teams took the game to Spain. Whether Neymar and Fred for Brazil, or the fantastic wing-play from Italy, the Spanish defence had no answers, proving that they are not invincible.

3. Italy over-rely on Pirlo and De Rossi

As many plaudits may be lauded on the Azzuri, there’s no denying one simple fact: their midfield looked inept without the craft of Andrea Pirlo and the defensive graft of Daniele De Rossi. Italy looked like they missed something important when those two weren’t on the field, and as much as I like him personally, Alberto Aquilani is simply not in the same class.

4. Goalkeepers are not finished

To the world, this is the age of the striker. Ask a fan to name a few players and goalkeepers hardly make the cut, but for one thing the Confederations Cup proved was that the art of keeping goal is not dead. No siree, it's very much alive and well. Gianluigi Buffon, Julio Cesar and Iker Casillas proved this beyond a doubt. Gigi Buffon, laughed at for errors committed in the Juventus goal, proved his mettle with imperious displays against Spain, Brazil and Uruguay. Casillas, an outcast all season at Madrid, was the safest pair of hands in the tournament, while Cesar, who endured a season from hell in England with QPR, put on a superhuman display in the semis against Uruguay and in the final against Spain. Goalkeeping dead? I. Don’t. Think. So.

5. FIFA need to stop having “Tahiti” displays

Now, before anything, let me clarify that I hugely admire this Tahiti team, but, all things said, they became the butt of jokes aplenty as the tournament whipping-boys. FIFA need to stop these humiliating displays, where a much weaker team is introduced into a huge tournament, only to receive the thrashing of their lives.


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