Spain 08-13 v Brazil 1970 – which team is superior?

With Vicente Del Bosque's men looking for their fourth straight international crown on Sunday, Goal asks whether this La Roja have eclipsed Pele's great Selecao
Both will remain symbols of defining epochs long from now. Both have left a legacy, the image of an ideal.

From Pele, Tostao, Rivelino and Gerson to Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Iker Casillas and Sergio Busquets, this Spain side and that Brazil team dazzled their adoring publics and won the hearts of the neutrals as they weaved the most intricate of patterns, ball in toe.

Whether it was the deep red of la Roja or the mesmerising bright yellow of the Selecao – the first World Cup to be beamed around the world in colour, the radiant jerseys adorned by Pele & Co. in Mexico undoubtedly added the exotic allure that captured the imaginations of a generation – each will take their place amongst the pantheon of football’s greatest ever teams.

It’s never easy to compare sides from different eras. The game has changed substantially in the time that ticked by between these two world champions lifting football's biggest prize.

From the quality of the pitch and the ball to the fact that contemporary players are being asked to run twice as much as their counterparts from 1970’s, football's modern landscape is almost unrecognisable.

But with Spain looking to scoop their fourth senior international title in the five years since claiming the European Championship with a 1-0 victory over Germany in Vienna when they face Confederations Cup hosts Brazil on Sunday, Goal is now posing that very question: Spain 08-13 or Brazil 1970?

Both were extremely well-drilled, Brazil’s approach, contrary to popular belief, was every bit as considered as the Barcelona-inspired modus operandi with which Spain have achieved so much.

"In 1970, we played in the same way Spain play today, but not at the same speed,” the coach of that Brazil side, Mario Zagallo, told the BBC this week.

“However, our team were very good on the ball and kept ball possession like the Spanish, who are a team who have been playing like this for a long time.”

Is it about longevity? About sustaining success? Is it only about silverware? Or is it about something less tangible?

How many of the current Spain side would make it into that Brazil team, and vice versa? Can anyone rival Pele? Do Spain lack a Jairzinho? For all Brazil’s individual talent, did the collective achieve the level of cohesion we have seen from the current World Champions in recent years?