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Brazil, Spain look to serve up final feast

Rio De Janeiro: FIFA president Sepp Blatter has already declared this year's Confederations Cup, hors d'oeuvre for the World Cup in 12 months time, is the best ever.
     
Yet he and 200 million Brazilians, 47 million Spaniards and countless fans across the globe hope the best is yet to come as holders Brazil and world champions Spain prepare to take the final curtain on Sunday in Rio.
     
Brazil starlet Neymar says he can already taste the atmosphere of an historic occasion as the Selecao aim for a third straight crown, and a fourth overall.
     
A Spanish victory, by contrast, would make them the first side to win four straight international tournaments after sandwiching their 2010 World Cup success with European glory in 2008 and 2012.
     
With Spain the dominant power of recent years and Brazil the most successful nation in the game's history, it is small wonder their stars cannot wait to joust at the renovated Maracana stadium, scene of Brazil's legendary 1970 World Cup win.
     
"These teams have great tradition and history. Spain havetheir stars - and so do Brazil," Neymar said on Friday as he contemplated the final the purists craved.
     
Neymar and company faced initial criticism from Pele, who claimed the current Brazil team is "not good enough" to land the game's top prizes.
     
But by beating Japan, Mexico and Italy in the group phase and then showing they can scrap by edging Uruguay in a tough semi, Brazil are rising again after falling to a modest 19th in the FIFA rankings ahead of the event.
     
Just as Vicente del Bosque has taken Spain to even greater heights after succeeding Euro 2008 winner Luis Aragones, so Brazil's ongoing renaissance is down to a fellow moustachioed sexagenarian in Luiz Felipe Scolari, architect of a World Cup success in 2002.
     
Scolari insists this World Cup dress rehearsal is merely an opportunity to see how well he can blend the aces in his pack over the coming year.

(Agencies)

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