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.
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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.
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)
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.