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Spain headed to final for first time
by Mike Woitalla, July 7th, 2010 4:27PM

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TAGS:  germany, spain, world cup

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[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)



0 comments
  1. Walt Pericciuoli
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.
    Spain showed the way to defeat physically more gifted team, not by constant fouling, delaying with fake injuries or staying in a defensive shell. They controled the game pretty much from start to finish and kept the German attack in check by having them chase after the ball for 90 min. If the Germans had taken a few more chances, Spain would have added more goals. As it was, the scoreline could have easily been 3-0. (Puyol's 1st half miss and Pedro's selfish dribble rather than to dish to Torres for an open netter)I say Bravo to Spain and positive attacking soccer.

  1. James Froehlich
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 11:39 a.m.
    Well said , Walt

  1. David Sirias
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 12:23 p.m.
    Spain does not hack, unlike the Dutch. And Spain does not embellish, unlike Robben. As a neutral, for these reasons alone, I am pulling for the Spaniards. Soccer is about skill, and this team is proof that skill can defeat almost any opponent, even one physically stronger and faster. You hear that US Soccer ! We are a big enough country to physically overpower the smaller countries. We cannot do that against elite teams. We need several skill guys, most of them ON THE FIELD at all times against the elite teams. It's the job of US Soccer to find these guys.

  1. Raveen Rama
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 2:49 p.m.
    Spain does have a great game with extremely skillful players. As a coach I also teach that possession is one of the keys to winning a game. Having said that I must point out that possession only in the midfield and very seldom attempts on taking shots at goal makes soccer a very boring spectator sport. I found the Spanish game extremely boring except for some exciting moments. I think in order to make soccer more attractive and more enjoyable to watch we should consider a shot clock, for example, when in possession a team must take a shot at goal within two minutes. This way the game will become faster, more exciting, and teams will play even harder, just like when they do in the knockout phase, down one goal, and time is running out! What do you think?

  1. David Huff
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 3:44 p.m.
    Evidently Germany did not study the US Condeferations Cup playbook/game tape for the key to defeating Spanish technical mastery, bringing a physical pressuring game to disrupt them.

  1. David Huff
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 3:46 p.m.
    Raveena, sounds like the soccer equivalent of the NBA's 24-second shot clock rule, this would make the two closely related games even closer to one another.

  1. Ric Fonseca
    commented on: July 8, 2010 at 8:15 p.m.
    Way before the WC started, in fact during the Conf Cup, I told my son that in the WC, Spain would take it all the way, although I have to admit that for the semis while my heart was for Espana, my brain said Deuthsland.... and so my heart won! Unfortunately Germany sat on its heels too much and played too cautiously, so now let's see que pasara el domingo....and this time I'm listening to mi corazon!

  1. Christopher Holden
    commented on: July 9, 2010 at 2:32 a.m.
    When I heard Alexi Lalas say that the foul on Ozil should not be called since Spain had most of the possession of the ball in the first half -- it made me LOL. Since when is ball possession a criteria in FIFA's rule book. What a joke. For me the turning point in the game was when Sergio Ramos stomped on Podolski's foot (no card for that either). I don't know why the refs are afraid to book the Spaniards, but it is clear that the same rules do not apply for all teams in the World Cup. Go Oranje Go! If Spain gets the first goal this game is over.


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