Tuesday, July 6, 2010

World Cup 2010: Spain-Germany Semifinal Preview

Two years after they clashed in the Final of Euro 2008, Spain and Germany meet in Durban in the World Cup semifinals. The winner earns a date with Holland in Sunday's Final. Not since the Soviet Union faced Yugoslavia in the 1962 group stages have the two finalists from a European Championship met at the subsequent World Cup.

Germany's World Cup started with a blast in a 4-0 win over Australia. After splitting a pair of 1-0 matches, a loss to Serbia and win over Ghana, the goal scoring onslaught returned in the knockout round. A 4-1 win over England came with a twinge of controversy, but there was noting to detract from a 4-0 quarterfinal thrashing of previously unbeaten Argentina. While Germany have been romping, Spain have been squeaking through the knockout stages. After losing their opener to Switzerland, Spain have won four-straight, including twin 1-0 victories over Portugal and Paraguay.

The World Cup stage has again brought out the best from Miroslav Klose, who now has 14 goals in three World Cups. Germany will be without Thomas Muller, suspended after picking up an absurd yellow card on a hand ball call against Argentina. Muller has four goals and three assists in the tournament. In Mueller's absence, lanky youngster Mesut Ozil will be counted on to team with Klose and Lukas Podolski to lead Germany's charge.

There's not much more David Villa could do to help the Spanish cause; he has scored five of the team's six goals in the World Cup. Spain's other key playmaker has been Andres Iniesta, whose determined attacks have kept opponents back pedaling. Critical saves in the second half against Paraguay from Iker Casillas, including a PK stop when the game was scoreless, gives La Furia Roja supreme confidence in their captain and goal keeper.

Spain will want no part of a penalty kick shootout. While Germany is well known for their spot kick success at the World Cup, Villa and Xabi Alonso have missed Spain's two attempts in this tournament. This match is full of potential, but Germany are definitely the squad playing at the higher level. Off they go to their seventh final in the last 10 World Cups.

Prediction: Germany 2, Spain 1

No comments: