Quarter-Finals: Match 3
Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
July 3, 2010, 19:30 IST
Though not a full-fledged enmity, this rivalry rose to its peak in the second half of the 80’s. A Maradona-inspired Argentina & West Germany competed in two back to back finals. In 1986, Argentina won their second ever World Cup; the 3-2 score line didn’t do justice to a largely one-sided final. West Germany had their revenge in Italia ’90- a hugely disappointing final was decided by an Andreas Brehme penalty, and saw Argentina finish the game with nine men.
For many football fans, this match should have taken place much later; this truly is the clash of two of the most exciting teams in the competition till now. Argentina made short work of their group, winning all three games and scoring seven goals. They followed it up with a 3-1 win over Mexico. Carlos Tevez has been the pick of the Argentine players; Messi and Higuain both look good so far. Their defence still looks shaky, and the Germany encounter will be their first big test.
Jersey # 13 has so far proved lucky for Muller
After a brilliant start, Germany wobbled for a while in their group. A Mesut Ozil strike ensured Germany progressed as group leaders. A crunch tie with England waited in the second round. The young and energetic German team outplayed a hapless England for most of the game, which ended 4-1 in favour of Germany, England’s heaviest World Cup defeat ever. Mesut Ozil and Thomas Muller are in ominous form, Klose continues to notch up World Cup goals with shocking ease, and Podolski looks to have lost his form after a good start.
The match-up is between two very similar teams – both look to outscore their opposition, and both possess a very shaky defence. A flurry of goals can be expected in this fixture. The war of words has already started. It remains to be seen how Argentina fare if Messi is not on song; a double marking by Khedira and Schweinsteiger might work for Germany. The right-back position for Argentina will be crucial. Gutierrez has looked unsure whenever he played, and either Otamendi or Burdisso might get the nod ahead of him for this match.
World Cup head to head record:
West Germany 3-1 Argentina (Group League, ’58)
West Germany 0-0 Argentina (Group League, ’66)
West Germany 2-3 Argentina (Final, ’86)
West Germany 1-0 Argentina (Final, ’90)
Germany 1(4)-1(2) Argentina (Quarter final, ’06)
Will he get his name on the score-sheet today?
Player to watch out for: Lionel Messi (Argentina)
Messi has shown sparks of his brilliance, but still has been below par considering his performances for Barcelona. A world cup goal still continues to elude the diminutive Argentine. He will look to get his name on the scoring charts against a weak German central defence.
Key player battles: Bastien Schweinsteiger (Germany) vs Javier Mascherano (Argentina)
This match might be decided by whoever controls the midfield. A fascinating battle pits two of the best central midfielders of the world against each other. Schweini would be assisted by Khedira, who also makes brilliant forward runs; Maschernao would sit back behind the Argentine attack, and look to shield the Argentine defence against German breakaway attacks.
Quarter-Finals: Match 4
Ellis Park Stadium, Johannesburg
July 4, 2010, 00:00 AM IST
Very few people expected Paraguay to travel this far. The well-organized South American team crossed the second round hurdle, dispatching Japan in a penalty shootout. Spain looked unstoppable in their 1-0 win over Portugal. The European champions finally seem to have hit the kind of rhythm that made them unbeatable in Euro 2008.
Paraguay are yet to lose a game in this World Cup. Their run included an impressive draw with defending world champions Italy and a 2-0 rollicking of Slovakia. The form of their strikers will be a huge concern. Lucas Barrios and Oscar Cardozo both came with sparkling club records in the last season; however, they have struggled to replicate the same form in national team colours. Paraguay haven’t scored a goal in last 2 games; even worse, they rarely looked threatening. A lot will depend on whether they can surmount the challenge posed by Pique & Puyol.
Spain started off terribly, in typical Spanish fashion one might say. But they got their campaign back on track with minimum fuss and topped their group. Since letting in a slightly unfortunate goal against Switzerland, Spain are yet to concede a goal. David Villa has been one of the standout players in this world cup. He has scored four of Spain’s five goals, and assisted the one Iniesta scored. Spain’s headache will be the terribly off-color Fernando Torres; Llorente played really well after coming on for Torres against Portugal. Will del Bosque have the courage to bench Torres for Llorente? Spain will most likely start with the same line-up of the last game.
Villa is scoring goals for fun
A lot depends on David Villa. Without David Silva playing, Spain have very little goal scoring opportunities. Torres doesn’t look like scoring a goal; he didn’t score a single goal among the 28 Spain scored in qualifiers, and he played just 100 minutes less than Villa, who got ten goals to his name. Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets or Xabi are not prolific enough. An off-day for Villa, like the one against Switzerland, can hurt Spain’s chances.
World Cup head to head record:
Paraguay 0-0 Spain (First Round, ’98)
Spain 3-1 Paraguay (First Round, ’02)
Player to watch out for: David Villa (Spain)
“El Guaje” has lived up to his hype wonderfully. He has already broken the Spanish goal scoring record in a World Cup; with 42 goals from 62 games, he is two goals shy of Raul’s all time Spanish record. Villa has contributed vastly to Spain’s progress. He would be kicking himself for not getting the hat-trick against Honduras, as he missed a penalty. Statistically, Villa was the most prolific striker in the 2005-09 period. So far he hasn’t disappointed, and he would want to continue this form.
Key player battles: David Villa (Spain) vs Victor Caceres (Paraguay)
Caceres, the 25 year old defensive midfielder, has been the unsung hero in the current Paraguay setup. He performs admirably well as a defensive screen and is usually the starting point of Paraguayan attacks. His intelligent runs & good ball distribution makes him a vital component to his team. But in this match he will come up against a degree of challenge he has never faced before – one of the best goal scorers of this generation. Villa is in top-form, and would look to continue his scoring streak. He has never failed to score a goal for Spain in World Cup knock out matches. The battle between these two will determine which way the match goes.