Confederations Cup: Brazil unites to create irresistible force


At the final whistle they danced on the field and they danced in the stands.

This was Brazil, united. This was a nation that had rediscovered its faith in its beloved Selecao, a nation that believed in its heroes once more. As Neymar, Dani Alves and Fred shook tambourines and tapped drums near the centre circle, the party was just beginning across Brazil.

There was samba in the streets and joy and delight on the faces of those who trailed away from the stadium. There were still thousands in the Maracana an hour after the final whistle, simply basking in the joy and the jubilation. It was all a far cry from the match against England in June.

On that day, Luiz Felipe Scolari, the architect of Brazil's resurgence at the Confederations Cup, was targeted with donkey chants by large sections of the Maracana after making a series of substitutions the Rio public did not agree with. Brazil were even booed at times by their own fans.

It had been the same in the preceding months. Brazil was not convinced by the return of Scolari, nor the way he was setting up his team and the players he was picking.

Against Spain, all of that was forgotten, blown away on a wave of passion and emotion that shook the world champions to their core and sent Brazil on their way to a victory that will lay down a marker for the rest of world football ahead of next summer's World Cup.

The noise inside the stadium had built steadily in the hours before kick-off, from a deep rumbling of palpable emotion to an anthem that shook the foundations.

Spain had no answer to Brazil's 12th man. When team and nation are united, few teams will.

"The main aspect of the Confederations Cup was our fans," Scolari said.

"It is so important that we continue to have this unity and spirit. I want to really thank the population, our supporters. We represented Brazil with dignity.

"At the final whistle, the fans were singing 'the champions are back' - that was fantastic to hear. Some people might just say that is silly, it doesn't mean anything. But you saw our players singing, they get this drive from the fans and they give more on the pitch.

"When we come together, we are strong. Not just on the pitch but in all areas of life here in Brazil."

A number of well-respected Brazilian journalists admitted later that they had never experienced an atmosphere like it at a Brazil match. Pedro Fonseca was one of them. "No-one saw this coming even a month ago. Brazil the country would have been happy to get to the final. But everything has built up. I've never seen anything like this. It was incredible. It won't be easy to beat Brazil and that crowd."

Even at the start of the tournament, even when Neymar put Brazil in front after three minutes against Japan in Brasilia, there was no hint of an atmosphere like this. Something had changed. Something built over the weeks as Brazil worked their way through the tournament.

The belief had flooded back after victories over Mexico in Fortaleza and particularly after the resounding win over Italy in Salvador. Against Uruguay it was not pretty, but Scolari kept the belief going and Brazil got over the line to set up the final the nation feared, but wanted to see.

It was clear even three hours before kick-off that the Maracana would play a vital role. With two hours to go, the stadium was three-quarters full. Spain had arrived first and chose to sat in the away team dugout as the closing ceremony rumbled on in the background.

But amid the music and the fanfare, pictures appeared on the big screen showing the arrival of the Brazil team. The Maracana shook and Spain felt it.

David Luiz

The likes of Fernando Torres, Xavi and Andres Iniesta smiled as the crowd rose to acclaim their team. Spain's World Cup winners smiled as they then appeared on the big screen.

The cheers turned to jeers and boos, the Brazilian public were in no mood to dish out pleasantries to the world champions. They feared them, there was jealousy and they desperately wanted to win.

Scolari was the first off the team coach and he was roared to the rafters. Brazil fans hung from the upper turrets of the Maracana, fighting for a glimpse at their heroes as they arrived. But there was a pause after the staff appeared. The Brazil team were huddled together on the team bus, playing samba, pulling together. Alves walked off with a drum under his arm, Neymar a tambourine. It is a symbol of their togetherness.

The record books show that Brazil have not lost a competitive game on home soil since November 1975, a defeat by Peru in the Copa America. Their last loss in a competitive match at the Maracana came in the 1950s. These are records that the rest of the world will need to overcome if they are to deny Brazil next summer. And Scolari knows it.

"The friendlies we play now will be different to the ones we have played before. Before this tournament, we were seen as a team that any other team could attack, a team that few people feared. Now that has changed. They will respect us."

It would be wrong to dismiss Spain after one defeat, just as it would to declare Brazil certainties to win the World Cup. But when Brazil are together, as people and a football team, they are more than a match for anyone. The world has been warned.

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