Semi Final – II
Durban Stadium, Durban
July 8, 2010, 12:00 AM IST
The footballing gods were in some mood when they set up a semi final clash between two of Europe’s finest footballing nations. Three time champions Germany, who have thrilled everybody with their free flowing football, take on European Champions Spain, who are yet to get into their stride, in an encounter that has all the makings of a World Cup classic.
Germany, who are aiming for their fourth World Cup, have been a breath of fresh air in a tournament that has been short on exciting football. With their band of young stars in full flow, the Germans have made short work of their opponents. Apart from a hiccup against Serbia, the Germans have looked solid, and crushing wins against England and Argentina in the pre-quarters and quarters has cemented their status as the favourites to take the cup home.
The Germans have looked unbeatable at times, and they go into the encounter on the back of some stunning results. They have been clinical while going forward and stingy at the back, having scored thirteen goals in five matches and conceding just three goals. The in-form pairing of Miroslav Klose and Thomas Mueller has been the source of eight of those thirteen goals, but it has been the work of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mesut Ozil in midfield that has been the highlight of their play; the Germans will look to these two midfielders again in the semi final. The only problem facing Joachim Low is the suspension of Thomas Mueller – the young Bayern player picked up his second yellow card in the game against Argentina ,and will sit out of the game against Spain as a result. However, Low has a plethora of talent to choose from,with Piotr Trochowski, Toni Kroos and Cacau all in the running to replace the young star.
Spain, on the other hand, have failed to live up to their own high standards at the World Cup. La Furia Roja, who will be playing their first World Cup semi-final, looked a bit flat in their quarter-final encounter against Paraguay and struggled to get their passing game going. That said, most teams have chosen to be quite defensive against the Spanish. The Spaniards have picked up momentum as the tournament has progressed, with David Villa in excellent form. Vicente Del Bosque has opted to start with the out of form Fernando Torres so far, and he is expected to do the same against Germany as well, with Torres leading the Spanish attack, flanked on either side by David Villa and Andres Iniesta. The mid field trio of Xavi, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets hold the key to Spain’s success, and will have to be at their very best if they are to stop the German juggernaut. Cesc Fabregas suffered a shoulder injury and was considered doubtful for the game, but reports suggest that he should be fit for what should be a cracking semi final.
World Cup Head-to-Head Record:
Germany are yet to lose to their European counterparts in the World Cup. The two sides have met three times, with Germany emerging 2-1 victors at England 1966 and Spain 1982 with their most recent encounter at USA 1994 ending in a 1-1 draw.
Player to watch out for: David Villa (Spain)
After a lacklustre performance against Switzerland, the Spanish hitman has set the tournament on fire with some stunning display of football. His contest with the likes of German captain Philip Lahm and defender Per Mertersacker will be quite intriguing to watch. Villa has five goals to his name in the tournament and has scored a total of eight World Cup goals ,crossing the likes of Spanish legends Emilio Butragueno and Raul. He has forty three international goals and needs just one more to equal Raul as his country’s top scorer, and there can be no better occasion to do so than in a World Cup semi-final against a footballing powerhouse like Germany.
Key Battles: David Villa (Spain) against Philip Lahm (Germany) and Miroslav Klose (Germany) against Gerard Pique (Spain)
David Villa and Miroslav Klose have been in terrific form, and it will be up to both defences to negate the threat that these two pose. Lahm has had a good tournament, but he will face a stern test when he comes up against the man the Spanish lovingly call ‘El Guaje’. David Villa’s runs from the left have created problems for many a defence, and it will be upto the German right back to somehow keep the striker in check.
Miroslav Klose has the opportunity to achieve a historic feat as he stands on the threshold of becoming the most prolific striker in the history of the World Cup. With four goals to his name in this edition, he has equalled German great Gerd Mueller’s record with fourteen goals, and will be looking to go past the Brazilian icon Ronaldo, who has fifteen goals to his name. Gerard Pique will have the difficult task of keeping an eye on the German hitman.