Football may be no country for old men, but today’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. 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.