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HindustanTimes Sat,27 Dec 2014

Football

Confed Cup: 'Threatening' Spain stick to possession guns
AFP
Rio De Janeiro, June 30, 2013
First Published: 07:58 IST(30/6/2013)
Last Updated: 08:01 IST(30/6/2013)

Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque on Saturday suggested that Brazilian fans see the world champions as a threat in the final of the Confederations Cup -- and said he expected "la Furia Roja" to storm the Maracana stadium on Sunday.

Spain go into the game unbeaten in 29 competitive games stretching back to the 2010 World Cup. But they are up against a footballing nation that has been five-times world champions.

The showdown between the Spain and Brazil will either give Del Bosque's men an unprecedented fourth straight tournament win or see Brazil carry off the Cup for the third time in a row.

And he even suggested Brazil were seen as the underdogs for the final.

"It is normal for the fans to side with the weaker (team)," said Del Bosque mischievously.

"They see us as a threat."

Spain have had a day less to prepare as they look to win the competition for the first time. They had to go to extra-time and penalties to wrestle Italy out of their way in the semi-finals.

On top of that, they have travelled some 22,000 km and spent 30 hours in a plane since leaving home: first to play friendlies against Haiti and Ireland in the United States; then at different stadiums in Brazil on their road to the final.

But Del Bosque is not looking for excuses as his superstars take on a Brazil side boasting 74 wins in 104 matches played to date at the Maracana.

"We are not complaining about having a day's less rest," he insisted. "I believe my players are prepared for the final as they are in great shape.

"I think we are having a great Cup after a long season," said the former Real Madrid handler.

Spain have won praise from Brazil for providing their own version of the "jogo bonito" or beautiful game over the past five years.

Their midfield star Xavi insisted Spain would not change up their style when they go up against the original model on Sunday.

"Spain's (playing) philosophy is clear and we have been successful with it," the Barcelona star declared.

"In other words, to enjoy possession and dominate the match.

"Brazil is the most successful team in the history of football so it will be a special evening with both sides on form.

"I think we are pretty even," added Xavi, stressing that Brazil boss and 2002 World Cup winner Luiz  Felipe Scolari "is very strong on tactics".

Spain's veteran goalkeeper Iker Casillas said the match pits "the best teams on their respective continents" against each other, facing off in their first competitive meeting in 27 years.

"I think it should be a great final. I think Neymar is a great player but they have other quality players too, several with European experience," Casillas said.

Xavi concluded: "A final in Brazil against Brazil at the Maracana is great and it would complete a cycle if we can beat the most successful team there has been.

"Work, luck, talent -- and a fantastic generation of footballers. Spanish football is in great health and we must make the most of it."


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