Neymar, Iniesta

It’s hard to imagine, but it’s been almost 15 years since the last time Spain and Brazil met in an international match, with the tables quite turned since their most recent encounter, as the host nation are trying to find their way back up the global’s game charts, while Spain are hoping to add yet another title to their endless trophy cabinet.

If one could have picked the final for the 2013 Confederations Cup, this one would have been the most likely outcome. Brazil have won all four matches so far, going through a tougher group than what Spain had to handle, and looked like the dominant side for most of their semifinal win against Uruguay.

Spain had quite smooth sailing in their group stage encounters, but were reminded of their weaknesses in the semifinal against Italy, needing penalty kicks to go through. Not for the first time, Italy have shown a blueprint that might serve others well in stopping Spain, although the tactics they deployed probably won’t be used by the Brazilians.

Italy, like France in the World Cup Qualifying, put a lot of emphasis on stopping Jordi Alba, which limits the options Spain have on the wing, as Alvaro Arbeloa rarely goes forward and isn’t one of the preferred options for Xavi, Iniesta and David Silva. With no Cesc Fabregas Del Bosque doesn’t have a false 9 to use so he plays with a striker, but after the struggles against Italy, he might opt for a player who goes wider, like Jesus Navas, who brought on a new breath of life to Spain’s match against Italy, not to mention hitting the deciding penalty.

For Brazil, there’s an extra day of rest that might benefit them, but they also have a full lineup at their disposal. Scolari isn’t one for changes, hoping that this lineup will get its chance to make a clean run from here on out and be fully compatible for the World Cup. What was revealed in the win over Uruguay that Scolari doesn’t like using Lucas Moura if he doesn’t have to, while Bernanrd of Atletico Mineiro is likely to be used a bit more now that he’s shown his importance.

Prediction – Brazil are too proud and confident to change their style in order to try and ruin Spain’s possession ways, but a bit more midfield pressure and a higher line from their defenders might help cause some trouble for the fragile and tired world champions. Spain are still the stronger side, but a match that goes into extra time seems like the most likely outcome after 90 minutes.