Germany vs Spain: a mouthwatering prospect
By the time you read this, one World Cup finalist will have been identified. As far as I see it, it is the winner of the second semi-final, between Germany and Spain, who will go onto to become the world champion. I am pretty sure the quality of football from Durban will be a worthy of a final itself.
Spain vs Germany is mouth-watering. Spain has always been a football power in the world. They have an excellent youth system and produce quality players. In the last decade they finished in the top three at the Under-17 World Cup, Under-20 World Cup and at the Olympics. Yet they were under-achievers at the senior level, but I think winning the 2008 Euro Championships has helped them make a shift in the mind when it comes to major competitions.
Their rivals though are a different kind of team, footballers who play big matches without nerves. Germany has been the most consistent team in this World Cup, dominating matches, scoring a bucketful of goals and defending robustly. They have been the surprise sparklers of South Africa.
The flexibility of the young German side to adapt to different situations under pressure is really admirable. They are also an extremely fit one, having scored half of their goals in the last 20 minutes.
Spain though will test the German defence more than any other team has. Germany's strength is in its attack, in the combinations between the mid-field and the front line, with its diversity in attacks - they can either counter-attack at lightning speed or produce a slow build up.
Spain on the other hand, are playing the passing game much like Brazil did 1982, it is of that quality. Their main strength is their midfield and it is magical to watch Xavi, Iniesta, Alonso, Fabregas making moves in triangles and diamonds formations with complete precision. Statistics show us that it is Spain which has made the most passes and have produced the highest number of deliveries inside the penalty area.
Their only concern will be that they have not scored many goals and most of these goals have come from one player - David Villa. Germany's 13 goals so far have come from a varied cast, while Villa has scored 5 of Spain's 6. Spain's problem of finishing lies in Torres' being off his top form I will be watching to see if Vicente del Bosque keeps faith in him and includes him in the starting line-up.
I think the semi-final will also decide who wins the Golden Boot between the tall and strong Miroslav Klose and the fast, nippy and hard to handle Villa. Villa is particularly adept at one-on-one situations, which always come into play in big matches. But perhaps Klose has the bigger motivation needing only two more goals to become the all-time top scorer at the World Cup ahead of Ronaldo.
If I have to take a call, I would say that Spain actually have the edge. They have more depth and experience and have been on a long stretch of victories recently, along with being European Champions. Remember, they beat Germany in the final.