JOHANNESBURG—The outcome of a rematch is usually decided by which team learned the most from the first encounter. The United States is hoping the lessons they learned in their 3-0 loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup group stages will pay huge dividends when the two sides meet again in Sunday’s final.
“We gave them too much respect,” Bocanegra said. “We needed to change something. Against Egypt, we had a lot of energy. We were going at them. We want to impose ourselves on them rather than sit back. We can’t sit back.”
Bocanegra, who sat out the first Brazil game with a hamstring injury, came in at left back in the U.S.’s stunning 2-0 win over top-ranked Spain in the semifinals on Wednesday. Normally a centerback in the U.S. side, he plays on the left for his club, Rennes, and with Jay Demerit’s top-notch form filling in in the middle, Bocanegra’s shift to the flank was expected at some point.
But now he will have to deal with arguably the best and most attack-minded right back in the world, Maicon. In the first match, the Inter defender threatened the U.S. backline all night with his fuel-injected runs down the wing. He served in the freekick for Luis Fabiano’s 6th-minute opener and later scored one of his own after blazing down the right and sneaking a shot in at the near post.
Bocanegra admitted that he is looking forward to facing Maicon and isn’t intimidated by the big back’s skills or power.
“He’s a great player,” Bocanegra said. “But it’s not too unsimilar to dealing with [Spanish right back] Sergio Ramos.”
Good point. Despite not being fully fit, Bocanegra shut down his opposite number in the semifinal. Considering Maicon’s vital role in Brazil’s attack, now he’ll have to do it again in the final.
Greg Lalas, Goal.com
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