The manager of soccer world champions Spain on Friday insisted that hosts Brazil are the team to beat at next year’s Confederations Cup, the testbed for the World Cup that will also be on Brazilian soil in 2014.
“They are the team to beat,” said Vicente del Bosque, who masterminded Spain’s World Cup success in 2010 in South Africa and then led the Furia Roja to glory at the Euro 2012, making his star-studded side the first national team to land three straight international tournaments having also won Euro 2008.
The former Real Madrid manager said he would be aiming to field his strongest side in Brazil in June even though the tournament is a chance to blood some new faces before the 2014 World Cup.
Speaking at a press conference in Sao Paulo, Del Bosque said the Spanish recipe was nothing out of the ordinary, but rather “a balance between talent, technique and tactics.”
The 61-year-old is on a personal mission to do better than the 2009 Confederations Cup which saw Spain take a disappointing third place in South Africa before they returned a year later to win the 2010 World Cup.
Newly reappointed Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said he would use the tournament to “prepare 90 to 100 percent of the squad” for the 2014 World Cup.
The 2002 World Cup winner added: “The Confederations Cup will give us a good indication of the tactical changes we need to make, the changes we need to make on the playing side.”
Scolari was sanguine when answering fears broached by the media that the side bequeathed to him by sacked former Brazil manager Mano Menezes lacks experience.
“Young players such as Neymar do not have experience of a World Cup, but the young players can surmount this lack of [tournament] experience. We shall have more after the Confederations Cup,” Scolari said.
Italy manager Cesare Prandelli said he wants to blood young players at the 2014 World Cup dress rehearsal.
However, he must consider the requirements of the Under-21 side.
“We have interesting young players [and] we must decide who we take with us to the Confederations Cup, given that the Under-21 European Championships are also on next summer,” Prandelli said.
Euro 2012 finalists Italy are in the Confederations event as European representatives with Spain also present by dint of their world champion status.
Italy already know they will face the hosts as they cannot face Spain and the Brazilians cannot face South American champions Uruguay.
Also competing are Asian champions Japan and Oceania champions — and ultra minnows — Tahiti, as well as Mexico and whoever wins the Africa Cup of Nations in February.