When you open the papers to find Chelsea striker Fernando Torres linked with a move to Arsenal and Neymar calling on Wayne Rooney to leave Manchester United and join him at Barcelona, you know that silly season has well and truly arrived.
And things are only likely to get worse on that front after Neymar, Torres and company finally pack up for their summer holidays following tonight’s Confederations Cup final between Brazil and Spain.
However, for now, the final high-profile match of a long season takes centre stage and the big question for punters to consider is how much did Thursday night’s energy-sapping shoot-out win against Italy take out of Spain?
There are bound to be some heavy legs in the ranks of the world and European champions, who have had one day less to prepare for the final as Brazil secured their place on Wednesday with victory over Uruguay.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s men also have the support of the passionate Maracana crowd to call upon as they bid to complete a remarkable hat-trick of Confederations Cup triumphs.
But despite these factors apparently weighing in the hosts’ favour, I can’t remember the last time I saw Spain as long as 31/20 to win a match and this price is begging to be snapped up as it is surely preferable to the 8/5 on Brazil and the draw at 12/5.
Yes, La Roja will need to get some energy back into their tired legs but the embarrassment of riches at Vicente Del Bosque’s disposal means that any team he puts out will have more than enough quality to claim victory.
The imperious Thiago Silva aside, I am not convinced about Brazil’s defence and whether it can stand up to the ultimate test in international football – keeping Spain out.
And what’s more, Scolari’s men will struggle to trouble the remarkable Spanish rearguard – more of which later – as they also lack pace in attacking areas and a genuine threat in behind.
Fred is a fine poacher and has enjoyed a decent tournament but he ticks neither of these boxes, while the former Chelsea boss’ persistence with the woefully out-of-form Hulk is baffling.
Neymar, for all his undoubted brilliance, is more inclined to drop off to pick up the ball and run at the opposition and you just get the feeling that unless he produces a moment of inspiration, Brazil will find it difficult to score.
So while I am more than happy to play the 31/20 on Spain, it would also be remiss of me not to mention the fact that they are a whopping 31/10 to win without conceding, which looks an incredible price judging by the relevant statistics.
Spain have shipped just four goals in their last 20 tournament matches and the only one they have given up so far at the Confederations Cup was a sublime Luis Suarez free-kick in the 2-1 win over Uruguay.
But more significantly, Del Bosque’s artisans have kept an astonishing 11 consecutive clean sheets in knock-out encounters, a run which stretches all the way back to a 3-1 quarter-final defeat by France at the 2006 World Cup.
So it’s going to take something special for Brazil to prevent Spain winning their fourth straight international tournament and I would far rather side with La Roja at 31/20 – with a few extra quid on that amazing 31/10 for a shut-out win – than plump for the Samba Boys.