Monday Kickoff: Brazil takes Confederations Cup crown; Barcelona push for PSG’s Silva; and more

NeymarBrazilSpain1 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

When the Confederations Cup began on June 15, most observers doubted based on recent results that Brazil would have topped Spain if the two met in the tournament’s final match.

Instead, Brazil didn’t just beat Spain. They dominated Spain.

The Seleção defeated the reigning world and European champions, 3-0, in a match that saw Spain reduced to ten men. Neymar scored his fourth of the tournament between two Fred strikes that instantly made Brazil a bigger favorite to win next year’s World Cup, despite the backdrop of protests and rioting that has stolen many headlines during the last 15 days.

Neymar’s transfer fee of €57 million ($74.4 million) to Barcelona is beginning to look like a steal, as he weaved and dance his way in and out of defenders for the entire run to the title, earning himself the Golden Ball and Bronze Shoe award. Brazilian goalkeeper Julio Cesar was also named the goalkeeper of the tournament, earning the Golden Glove.

Though they were thoroughly defeated, Spain return home with the FIFA Fair Play award, a Fernando Torres Golden Shoe, and an Andres Iniesta Silver Boot trophy.

Here are some more stories to start your Monday:

BARCELONA MAKE LATE PUSH FOR THIAGO SILVA

FC Barcelona have made no secret that they are looking for defenders this summer.

After spending much of the spring trying and failing to sign the robust Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund (announced he was staying), the nimble Jeremy Mathieu from Valencia (signed a new contract), Barcelona look to be going all out with a push for the signature of Brazilian national team and Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva, according to reports in Spain..

With Carles Puyol turning 35 this past spring and failing to stay healthy for much of the season, a player of Silva’s quality would be a huge boost to the club’s defensive fortunes, though PSG have been quick to deny any chance of him leaving.

However, Barcelona has put the man who signed Neymar, Raúl Sanllehí, to speak with the player and his agent before the two leave Brazil after the Confederations Cup, to try and convince them to move to Barcelona.

FIFA SANCTION ETHIOPIA

After opening disciplinary proceedings last month on the Ethiopian Football Federation for fielding an ineligible player, FIFA has decided on a punishment.

FIFA has announced that Ethiopia’s match against Botswana on June 8, originally a 2-1 victory for Ethiopia, has been forfeited, awarding a 3-0 victory to Botswana. In addition, the Ethiopian federation has been fined CHF 6,000 ($6,347) for having failed to realize they played an ineligible player.

The controversy surrounds the playing of Minyahile Beyene in the Botswana match, where federation official seemingly didn’t realize that he had picked up a suspension in yellow card accumulation during qualifying.

The decision now leaves the top spot and a place in the next round of CAF qualifying for the 2014 World Cup open. Ethiopia, now with ten points, could be out of the next round with a draw or loss at Central African Republic and a South Africa win at home against Botswana this September.

QUICK KICKS

AC Milan have agreed personal terms with Japanese forward Keisuke Honda, but must sell Robinho before they can sign the CSKA Moscow midfielder. (REPORT)

Netherlands international Adam Maher has been introduced as a member of PSV Eindhoven after agreeing to a five-year contract, completing a reported €6.5 million move from AZ Alkmaar. (REPORT)

Montpellier midfielder Younes Belhanda has made a shock move to Dynamo Kiev in the Ukrainian Premier League. (REPORT)

Former Manchester United first-team coach Rene Meulensteen has joined Guus Hiddink’s staff at Anzhi Makhachkala. (REPORT)

Arsenal have had a £20 million ($30.5 million) bid for Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender rejected. (REPORT)

Julio Cesar, Brazilian National Team goalkeeper, will leave QPR this summer, confirms manager Harry Redknapp. (REPORT)

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What do you make of these reports? Do you see Brazil as the team to beat next summer? Do you believe Barcelona can sign Silva? Do you agree with punishment on Ethiopia?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Confederations Cup, European Soccer, Featured, International Soccer, South American Soccer. Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Monday Kickoff: Brazil takes Confederations Cup crown; Barcelona push for PSG’s Silva; and more

  1. Increase says:

    Having actually watched the guy now. Neymar reminds me of Ribery. This is not a bad thing as it makes him a pretty damned good player. Ribery has more experience and tends not to over do it but making people foul him is very much like Ribery. (Ugly fouls back is something to work on.)

    • biff says:

      True. They both also are expert divers, two of the best in the world :-)

      That said, Neymar is an incredible talent and not afraid of anybody and has a dynamic personality to complement his soccer skills and he is going to shake things up in Barcelona on the field and off. Neymar was quoted yesterday saying that he hopes Wayne Rooney moves to Barcelona. Apparently Barcelona is seriously trying to snare Rooney, who I think would be another great addition to Barca. Also talk that Barcelona want David Luiz and I can see Mourinho allowing that to strengthen Barca against his ex friends at Real Madrid. Luiz’s goal-line save on Pedro’s shot one of the best ever.

    • Rector & Carlisle says:

      Off the field, the Brazilian who reminds me of Ribery is Ronaldo.

    • Josh D says:

      I see Neymar more as a Robben: very tricky striking winger whose first thought is to get to goal and score. I’ve always found Ribery to be more supportive to the team.

      Either way, it’ll be insane to see him work with Messi next season.

  2. fischy says:

    Barca’s looking for defenders? I believe Brandon McDonald would come very cheaply.

  3. Rector & Carlisle says:

    While Brazil did dominate, Spain left three goals on the table. That said, Brazil would have won 5-3.

    It’s a good wake up call for Spain going into the WC: they see where the holes are.

    And that no Confed Cup winner ever went on to win the WC? Brazil should threaten that.

    • quozzel says:

      I don’t know if it’s a “wake-up call” so much as it was Spain’s limitations catching up to them. Spain is not a physical team, and they are not a fast team – they’re all about possession; if you’re sufficiently athletic to press, if you’re technical enough to get ahold of the ball and keep it for longer than six seconds when Spain turns it over and then swarms like bees to regain it, and if you can then get the ball out wide and then turn games into track meets, especially down the flanks, you can get at Spain. Bayern crushed Barca in much the same way in CL this past year.

      Which means, Germany can probably also get at Spain the same way the Brazilians just did. Past history would indicate the USA’s athleticism and size can give the Spaniards trouble as well, especially now that Klinsmann has the USA pressing up the field.

      Spain’s style, like every style, has its limitations. I don’t know that tiki-taka is ever going to go away, but every style has its day and then becomes…less effective, as people figure it out, and there are clear warning signs right now that it is happening to Spain and Barca.

      • Josh D says:

        I think it was two things:

        1. Spain had to play a very long, very physical game in extreme heat.

        2. Brazil’s early goal unnerved Spain. They wanted to press for the equalizer before half-time which changed their game plan. They should have put one away, but didn’t. And when Brazil got their second, any hope of playing the “Spain way” was out the door. So they had to rely on direct means. Which obviously didn’t work.

        If Spain had calmed down and found their rhythm, they would have done a lot better. As it was, Brazil’s physicality, with the atmosphere (great fans), and their tiredness cost them.

        That and poor keeping.

        • bryan says:

          heat was not an issue. it was 70 degrees according to ESPN.

          • Air Jordanz says:

            Twist: it was 70 deg C.

          • Eurosnob says:

            I think he was referring to Spain’s overtime win over Italy – it was 85 degrees at the kick off with high humidity – and there is no question that Spain may not have fully recovered prior to the final from playing extra time in those conditions. It does not mean that Brazil did not deserve to win, but it was an advantage because it largely eliminated Spains ability to press for extended periods of time.

      • KNPonder says:

        “if you’re technical enough to get ahold of the ball and keep it for longer than six seconds when Spain turns it over”

        Good observation and something that I noticed while watching. It is easy for a team to be physical with Spain to try and force turnovers (if the ref is allowing it). It is far more difficult to keep the ball once Spain turns it over. While Brazil was physical, they used their technical skills on the ball to keep possession in those critical 6 seconds. They actual used Spain’s “swarm” philosophy to their advantage as they were able to move the ball out quickly to try and catch Spain out of position.

        • Thebumswillalwayslose says:

          Agreed, I think that is the key takeaway from the game.

          It’s pretty common knowledge that Spain doesn’t like to play a physical game. If you can push them around a bit, and have speed on the flanks to take advantage of counter opportunities, you can nick a goal here and there and with some heroic defending you can win. But if being physical with them and being good on the counter were all it took to beat them, they’d have lost a hell of a lot more over the past 5 years.

          I think it’s really important to point out, before anyone goes and starts declaring Spain on the decline (not that you’re doing that) is that what you saw from Brazil – the athleticism and stamina to pressure and swarm combined with the technical ability to hold the ball longer than 6 seconds once it turns over – is something that there are maybe, maybe 3 or 4 teams in the world capable of doing.

          Off the top of my head – Brazil and Germany are the only ones that come to mind. Italy proved they can get the ball and maintain it, but they lacked the ability to take advantage (at least they did on Thursday). The Dutch and the Argentinians may be able to do so as well.

          • Nick4235 says:

            Agree the teams I was thinking would be Brazil, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and maybe France.

        • Eurosnob says:

          I think that it was a little bit of a perfect storm for Brazil. Spain was tired after playing an overtime game against Italy and, thus, could not press as effectively, when not in possession. Brazil scored an early goal and then fed off the crowd energy. The ref allowed Brazil to get away with some rough play without producing yellow cards, while lesser infractions by the Spanish players resulted in bookings. Brazil executed its game plan to a perfection and largely avoided self-destructive mistakes. Neymar probably had his best game for Selecao and Fred finished his chances. Spain missed a penalty kick (what were they thinking by making Ramos, a CB, their penalty taker). David Luis had a desperation goal line clearance that 9 out of 10 times ends up in the goal, but this time the ball bounced in a favorable direction. Brazil’s keeper made several critical saves (shots by Pedro, David Villa), etc. Spain was reduced to 10 men in the second half, which helped Brazil to retain possession. I think that Brazil deserved to win, and Spain did not match their passion and intesity, but there were so many things that went just right for them. I am looking forward to potentially seing these two teams play against each other at the knockout stages of the WC next year.

      • OPMG says:

        We’ll see what changes Spain makes for the WC. Remember last time around when USA beat Spain 2-0, and then Switzerland beat them in the WC group stage? Everybody thought they had figured Spain out with a bunker and counter tactic. Well, 2 european championships and a World Cup later it turns out that people jumped the gun a bit on what exactly was learned about how to beat Spain. Maybe we’ll see something similar, or maybe teams really have figured out how to counter their tiki-taka style.

    • slowleftarm says:

      It also helps if the referee refuses to book anyone for anything ever. A few yellow cards early in the game might have it a little more difficult for Brazil. I know those who find Spain’s style boring for some reason think this is the beginning of the end for them but I wouldn’t write them off yet.

      • OPMG says:

        It’s not the beginning of the end. But you’ll see more and more teams attempt to replicate what Brazil did to Spain, and what Bayern did to Barca. How will Spain adapt? They were (are?) the best team in the world because they were able to solve every problem teams could think to throw at them. Teams that come close to matching them for skill while having the advantage in athleticism pose a new challenge that the posession style teams will have to adapt to.

  4. Vic says:

    I hope Barca doesn’t try to low ball for Thiago like they did for Cesc Fabregas. Teams like Mancity, PSG and Chelsea over pay for players. The least Barca should do is pay market value for a player and not create sideshows and disrespect other clubs.

  5. biff says:

    We will see whether this was a wake-up call for Spain or the beginning of the end (of Spain’s dominance). I can’t help but think that Vincent del Bosque, who no doubt is a great coach, made some serious mistakes, basically starting the same players three games in a row in hot weather inlcluding a 120-minute game and leaving Javi Martinez on the bench against Brazil. He had several other world-class players who were rested and who should have started against Brazil.

    But who knows, Del Bosque is a sly ol’ dog and maybe he subconsciously wanted a defeat like this in order to have a mandate to clear out some of the geriatric players and pass the torch to younger guys. Does anyone doubt that Javi Martizez, a big and strong and key player for FC Bayern, would not have done better yesterday than Xavi, who was awful? And that was a pitiful performance by one of my faves, Iker Casillas. Mourinho has effectively destroyed Iker’s confidence and at his age I don’t see it coming back.

    I think the current Spain team would have trouble making it past the quarter-final in WC 2014, maybe even fall victim in the Round of 16. Spain needs to get rid of the old guys and/or allow Del Bosque to step down and bring in a new coach to shake things up.

  6. Annelid Gustator says:

    “The least Barca should do is pay market value for a player and not create sideshows and disrespect other clubs.”

    You are confused about how markets work.

    • Vic says:

      Ok so let me get this straight a bigger team(Barca) should provide a low ball bid for Fabregas, have players take turns coming out to the media saying Fabregas wants to leave his current club. Then have players put a Barca jersey on Fabregas at a national team press conference. Then have Fabregas plead with his club to let him go on the cheap even though he’s one of the best players in the world. Is that how you think the market should work?

      • Strider257 says:

        Vic, I think the point he is trying to make is that in a market-based system, you offer to pay what you think an item/service/etc. is worth. If you can get it cheap, you do that. Otherwise, you have to decide what you are willing to pay for the item. Its not really supply and demand, because teams can choose to hold onto a player even if more than the “market value” is offered, e.g. Lewandowski to Bayern. Dortmund are more concerned about remaining competitive than just getting what Lewandowski is worth.

  7. Charles says:

    I just read that FIFA moved Brazil down 5 places in the rankings.

  8. Michael says:

    Despite Italy’s recent improvement, in a way it’s too bad that Germany lost to Italy in the Euro semifinals, because it would also have been really interesting to see what the German side would have done in this tournament. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a Brazil-Spain rematch next summer, but I have a feeling that Germany will have something to say next summer as well.

    • biff says:

      I predict neither Germany nor Spain make it past the semi-finals (unless they meet again in the semi-final), with a better than 50-50 chance both teams get ousted in the quarter-finals. You heard it here first, folks.

  9. Josh D says:

    Glad to see Honda anywhere but Russia. Going to Russia cost him big time with injuries and stalling his growth as a player. He did get the big payday though. Can’t wait to see what he can do at AC, though I thought Arsenal would have done well to grab him.

    • Reboot says:

      Robinho out… Prince to follow?

    • DC Josh says:

      +1 he is an exciting player. Can’t wait to see more of him (not that I get BeINSport).

    • Bird says:

      Honda kinda got himself stuck. He didnt want to move to Lazio after the 2010 world cup and he only wanted to play in Spain or Italy for Champions League teams. He stayed on with CSKA because it was a big payday and champions league footy. However I agree with you, I think he expected to move on after another year or so but injuries really hampered him. The big move for me is Maher. PSV is already a very young and exciting team with a lot of talent. Add Maher to the mix and they could really make some noise next year. Also I think this further cements Jozy moving away from AZ.

  10. Pingunça says:

    Carlo Cudicini is not good

  11. BrianK says:

    Brazil’s win was inspired. Spain will re-group. Iker Casillas has seen better days. Time for a new keeper,…Reina? DeGea?

  12. Saracen says:

    Fernando Torres is quite the strange fruit… second choice (at best) striker and yet another Golden shoe/boot for top scorer in a big tourney. Confed Cup 2013 and Euro 2012. I know Tahiti will pad stats etc. but…….

    Hard to think of another top scorer in two international tourneys who gets dismissed as a has-been.

  13. slowleftarm says:

    Alvaro Arbeloa doing his best Bornstein impression yesterday.