Just because the Confederations Cup was billed as a dress rehearsal for next summer’s soccer World Cup doesn’t mean that it’s a preview of coming attractions for the hosts. “Nobody expected such an emphatic result, not against the world champions,” Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari conceded after his team’s 3-0 smothering of Spain last weekend inside Rio de Janeiro’s storied Estadio do Maracana. “But let’s not get carried away.”
Pele’s grandnephews also won the tournament among continental champions four years ago and ended up going out to the Dutch in the quarterfinals in the real Cup in 2010. This time, though, the Brazilians — Neymar, Fred, Jo, Hulk and the rest of their one-name companheiros — get to have the rest of the world drop by for the global festival of feet without having to qualify. Not so everyone who yearns to be on the 31-team guest list. Going into September’s stretch run only Iran, Japan, South Korea, and Australia have booked their Ipanema cabanas.