[SPAIN-GERMANY] The Spaniards controlled the game and outshot Germany over 90 minutes, but depended on defender Carles Puyol heading home a corner kick for a 1-0 win that sends them to the World Cup final for the first time in history. The 2008 European champion meets the Netherlands, which is also looking for its first World Cup title, on Sunday.
What we liked ...
-- How do you cope with a lethal, high-scoring team? Don’t let them have the ball and keep them on their heels. As it did in the 2008 European Championship final, Spain controlled the rhythm with precise passing and superb ball-handling, and again defeated Germany, 1-0.
-- Not until the 32nd minute, when Piotr Trochowski’s 35-yard shot forced a diving, one-handed save from Iker Casillas, did the Germans unleash a shot. By then, the Spaniards had pulled the trigger four times, including Carlos Puyol’s 6-hard diving header that went high. But Puyol made sure of it when Xavi sent in a corner kick in the 73rd minute. Puyol got a running start at the edge of the penalty area to strike a powerful header past keeper Manuel Neuer from 10 yards out.
-- Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Co., exchanged passes no matter how tightly Germany tried to mark, while outside backs Sergio Ramos and Juan Capevila came down the flanks – a tactic that Germany’s quarterfinal victim, Argentina, neglected when it was beaten, 4-0.
-- A first-time world champion will be crowned on Sunday. Only seven nations have won the previous 18 World Cup: Brazil (5), Italy (4), Germany (3), Argentina (2), Uruguay (2), England (1), France (1). The Netherlands finished runner-up in 1974 and 1978.
What we didn’t like …
-- For sure, while Spain deserved its semifinal victory, the young Germans had provided the most excitement at this low-scoring tournament until stifled by the Spaniards. What Coach Joachim Loew's team couldn't do is live up to the German reputation for coming from behind. They scored first in all their four wins, but fell, 1-0 to Serbia in their second group game as they did against Spain. Missing against Spain was the first-half goal the Germans got in big wins over Australia, England and Argentina – which allowed them to launch their swift counters down the wing.
-- The Germans scored 13 goals in their previous five games – and four in each of their last two -- but Spain extinguished their attack. A pure scorer such as Miroslav Klose needs service but those expected to deliver were occupied. Spain limited Bastian Schweinsteiger to sweeping in front of the German backline. Right back Philipp Lahm hardly dared to make his usual ventures down the wing. Even worse, German attacker Lukas Podolski spent more time in his own half than on Spain’s end.
-- Yes, Spain displayed some dazzling skills, but this semifinal won’t go down as a classic and this World Cup could end up as the lowest-scoring ever.
July 7 in Durban
Spain 1 Germany 0. Goal: Puyol 73.
Germany -- Neuer, Lahm, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Boateng (Jansen, 52), Schweinsteiger, Khedira (Gomez, 81), Trochowski (Kroos, 62), Ozil, Podolski, Klose.
Spain -- Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Puyol, Pique, Capdevila, Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Marchena, 90), Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro (Silva, 86), Villa (Fernando Torres, 81).
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)