3 - 2
Jun 28, 200909:00 Live
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*Confederations Cup 3rd Place
Stadium: Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg
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Finally, those who met will meet again. Europe’s defending champions Spain were caught by surprise by a fearless, united, and well-organized USA team. Jozy Altidore’s opening goal minutes before the half-hour mark rang the alarm on the Spanish who then tried to respond.
Riera, Xavi, Fabregas, Torres, and Villa – if not to name almost everyone – all came close to equalizing and turn things around for La Furia Roja. But a combination of luck and skill from the American’s impressive defense deprived Spain from finding a break through. Dempsey went on to score on 74 minutes to seal the USA’s shocking victory and to emphasize Spain’s defeat.
Fancy football, big names at every part of the field, and a record of 25 clean sheets out of 35 games unbeaten of which the last 15 were all victories couldn’t push Spain all the way to the final of the Confederations Cup tournament. The European’s amazing record finally came to an end at a time when almost everybody was expecting them to stand firm and to march forward.
It’s always hard to concede defeat but the Spanish have to face reality and content themselves with a bronze medal if they can.
South Africa were impressive against Brazil mainly thanks to Joe Santana’s tactical changes. Piennar and some others came close to score, forcing Julio Cesar to be on his guards. At the other end of the field, South Africa’s young goalkeeper was also constantly busy clearing his lines with the help of the defenders.
Unfortunately for the hosts, they couldn’t manage to hold Brazil for the full ninety minutes. Barcelona’s Dani Alves – who came off the bench in the dying minutes of the game – stole the spotlight and destroyed the hearts of South Africans when he broke the deadlock through an excellent free-kick. This ended South Africa’s hope of triumphing in this Confederations Cup tournament in front of the many home supporters.
So Spain and South Africa will clash against each other for the second time in three encounters and there is no doubt that this battle will be hotter than the last one.
South Africa’s 22-year-old goalkeeper was moments away from celebrating his birthday in style last week Sunday when his side came up against Spain in the third round of the Confederations Cup tournament. Khune wonderfully punched away David Villa’s penalty however, the disappointment was soon to arrive. Villa redeemed himself with a firing shot one minute later and substitute Llorente rounded up Spain’s victory with a 71st minute goal.
But it should also be said that this victory was Spain’s last in their 35 unbeaten games and 15 consecutive wins record. Anger and disappointment has replaced the smiles on the faces of the Spanish after their shocking 2-0 lost to the United States of America in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. Certainly, a third place finish isn’t what the European champions were dreaming of.
However, Spain might find motivation against South Africa because of their desire to reaffirm their authority. Spain will be expected to win this game, considering the anguish in which they find themselves after losing to “outsiders” the USA. In addition, they’ll be desperate to reopen a respectful and amazing record of matches against the team (South Africa) which let them avoid their first loss since November 2006.
One thing that Vicente Del Bosque might have to deal with in the preparations ahead of this clash is maintenance of his players’ psychology.Del Bosque will want to do away with complacency, lack of motivation, over anxiety or frustration.
For South Africa, this game will be the only and last opportunity to cheer up and reassure the South African nation ahead of the World Cup in one year’s time.
They will need to put their last-gap defeat to Brazil behind them and focus on Sunday’s third place final match.
Rumors suggest that South Africa’s encounter against Spain could be Joel Santana’s last game in charge of the Bafana Bafana. Whether true or false, the Brazilian born manager will want to see more from his players when they face Spain. Learning from mistakes might help Bafana Bafana to keep the door shut to the Spanish. Now the South Africans will surely need to be much more efficient in front of goal. Spain’s defense is usually excellent, but as the USA showed, it is possible to score against them when you punish them for the least mistake that they’ll do. South Africa have scored only twice in this tournament with both of these goals coming from Bernard Parker against the New Zealand.
As much as the game of football is unpredictable, it is hard to predict what will happen on Sunday between these two. Will Spain temper with their Red Fury on the South Africans? Can the hosts consulate themselves by rubbing Spain’s wounds with salt?