RIO DE JANEIRO – Confederations Cup winners and losers: AFP Sports selects the winners and losers from the 2013 Confederations Cup, the quadrennial tournament of continental champions that concluded on Sunday when Brazil beat Spain 3-0 in the final in Rio de Janeiro:
The 21-year-old superstar came into the tournament carrying a gigantic burden of expectation on his shoulders after his $75.3 million (57 million euros) move to Barcelona, but he delivered in thrilling style. He sparked the competition into life with a stunning half-volley in the third minute of Brazil’s opening 3-0 win over Japan, and after two more spectacular goals against Mexico and Italy, he created both goals as Brazil edged neighbours Uruguay 2-1 in the last four. Another great strike in the final where he orchestrated a tumultuous performance to see off the world champions and a lovely dummy also provided a goal for Fred.
Luiz Felipe Scolari (BRA)
Brazil was divided on his reappointment last November yet here he has delivered a trophy at the first time of asking. And even if there is a bigger prize to chase next year, the veteran coach has swiftly done something arguably even more important than putting a cup on the sideboard. He has restored confidence and self-belief at home and made the Selacao once again a team to be truly feared, especially on their own patch.
Andres Iniesta (ESP)
Even when Spain laboured, such as in the narrow penalty shoot-out win over Italy in the semi-finals, Iniesta provided a guiding light, illuminating the path to goal with his shimmying runs and feathery touches. “He’s made us great as a team and it’s really important that a player makes himself available to the team,” said coach Vicente del Bosque. “He has that collective sense of the game, but he’s also capable of doing things as an individual.” In the final he and his teammates clearly had nothing more to give as the Spanish wilted after the early opening goal by Fred.
Jonathan Tehau (TAH)
Tahiti’s first taste of a global tournament proved a chastening experience, but 25-year-old midfielder Tehau made history by becoming the first player from the Pacific island nation to score a goal at a FIFA event. Tehau found the net with a back-post header in the 54th minute of Tahiti’s opening 6-1 loss to Nigeria, although he undid some of his hard work by putting through his own goal later in the game.
Italy midfielder Andrea Pirlo and Uruguay forward Diego Forlan both celebrated their 100th caps in goal-scoring style at the tournament. Pirlo netted with an exquisite free-kick in his side’s 2-1 win over Mexico, while Forlan claimed a magnificent winner in a 2-1 victory against Nigeria with a first-time shot that flew into the top-left corner. But Forlan would later experience penalty misery against both Brazil and then the third-place playoff against the Italians.
Leonardo Bonucci (ITA)
The semi-final between Spain and Italy was decided by one of the most high-quality penalty shoot-outs in recent memory, and Bonucci was to prove the unfortunate fall guy. After 12 players had successfully found the net at Estadio Castelao, the Juventus centre-back hoisted the 13th kick over the bar, allowing Jesus Navas to put Spain in the final. To compound matters, team-mate Emanuele Giaccherini admitted he had been scheduled to take Italy’s seventh kick, only for Bonucci to volunteer after he lost his nerve.
Andres Scotti (URU)
Uruguay’s 8-0 demolition of Tahiti, ranked 119 places below them in the FIFA ranking, ended up being a walk in the park, but Scotti almost complicated matters by getting himself sent off. The experienced 37-year-old centre-back was shown a pair of yellow cards either side of half-time, but luckily for Uruguay, it only proved to be a flesh wound.
Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta used all three of his goalkeepers during the group phase, but there no discernible improvement as the minnows finished the tournament with a goal difference of -23. Xavier Samin conceded six goals against Nigeria, Mickael Roche was beaten 10 times by a merciless Spain, and Gilbert Meriel had to retrieve the ball from his net eight times against Uruguay.
A row over bonus payments meant that Nigeria did not arrive in Brazil until the day before their opening game, and despite crushing Tahiti 6-1, losses to Uruguay and Spain brought their tournament to an end after just seven days in the country.