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Big Phil and Vicente face off in Confed final

29 Jun 2013 02:16:52

Big Phil and Vicente face off in Confed final

Football may be no country for old men, but Sunday's Confederations Cup final in Rio between hosts Brazil and world champions Spain brings together two hugely experienced coaches who have seen it all.

Luiz Felipe Scolari and Vicente del Bosque had hoped for this reunion and the match at the majestic Maracana stadium will see a battle of tactical wits.

Both veteran managers will patrol their respective technical areas, urging their charges towards one of the modern game's top prizes.

Both have enjoyed success at club level - Del Bosque, 62, famously leading Real Madrid to their last two Champions League titles more than a decade ago before inexplicably being rewarded with the sack.

Real have had 11 years to contemplate how much their loss has been Spain's gain.

Del Bosque took over the national side from Euro 2008 winner Luis Aragones and fashioned a team that has since added the World Cup and another European title and now can score a first Confederations win.

Beating the hosts on their own patch would add another line to the legend of the man who, since the last World Cup, can bask in the title of 1st Marquis of Del Bosque, an honour bestowed on him by King Juan Carlos.

He is already the only coach to have won the Champions League, the European Championship and also the World Cup.

Scolari has enjoyed various highs and lows across his coaching career.

The 64-year-old from Passo Fundo earned merely an Alagoas state title as a rugged defender nicknamed "perna-de-pau" (wooden leg), whereas Del Bosque lifted five league titles with Real Madrid.

Both men may both be approaching pensionable age, yet if their manner appears old school they have both made a fine fist of modernising their respective national sides.

Del Bosque has refined Spain and made them a winning machine unbeaten in 29 competitive matches.

Scolari knows public criticism is never far from the surface in Brazil, but he can at least cloak himself in the enduring credit of his World Cup success first time around.

He led Palmeiras to the 1999 Copa Libertadores title but was fired by the same club last year.

Since resuming the Brazil post seven months ago, he has been at pains to play down expectations, insisting the World Cup is the real aim in 12 months time.

Yet after seeing off Uruguay in the semi-final he said that minds now had to be concentrated on the short-term. Already last week he had informed the media that he had cleared a space at home on his mantelpiece for another trophy.

"We have achieved our main aims - getting to the final and giving a good idea of the Selecao while giving the fans the idea that we do have a good team which can get to the World Cup final.

"But right now the main objective is winning the Confederations Cup."

Del Bosque says Spain have nothing to fear after putting out Italy, although he makes Brazil favourites on home soil.

"We are up against the five-time world champions in front of their own fans at the Maracana so I would say they are favourites. But we will give as good as we get.

"And no matter how much the players have won it's great the players are looking forward to it with the emotion of youngsters. We can't wait."

Del Bosque also insisted that the fact Spain have a day less to prepare was not a factor.

"We have 72 hours, others have a little more, but there is no excuse - we want to turn in a good performance."


AFP

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