Monday, 5 July 2010

It's almost showtime!

The moment of truth edges ever closer for the four remaining teams. Will it be the magic setting of Soccer City on July 11th, for the greatest prize in sport? Or will it be the massively underwhelming third place playoff in Port Elizabeth the night before?

Yesterday we had a look at the first semi final, so today it's the turn of Spain and Germany to step into the spotlight.


Quarter Final result:

Argentina 4-0

Who are they missing?

Thomas Mueller

Best performance:

As much as we might like to think it was beating the international equivalent of Forest Green Rovers in the second round, it was their last 8 thumping of Argentina. What was expected to be a close run thing between the two most exciting teams in the tournament turned into a complete destruction.

Worst performance:

Losing to Serbia, but in reality they haven't really had a poor game. They lost that match due to a very, very bad refereeing decision and an event that occurs about once a millenium, a German missed penalty.

Why they'll win it:

The best team in the tournament so far, by some considerable distance, they would be the most deserved winner. They're also of course German, so the least likely of the 4 to fall to pieces under the slightest pressure. Spain will pose problems, but due to their attacking style they will be vulnerable to the Germans' breakaways which have been such a resounding success so far. An early goal and there is a possibility Spain could fall apart in a similar way to England and Argentina.

Why they won't win it:

The best team very rarely wins the World Cup. It's extremely difficult to maintain a really high level of performance throughout. Even once you get out of the group, to win the 4 knockout matches with ease is almost unheard of. Usually a poor performance comes out at some point, and if it happens now they are in big trouble. They're also missing Mueller, and he could be a big loss, I'm not sure any of his potential replacements are capable of doing the same job anywhere near as well.


Quarter final result:

Paraguay 1-0

Who are they missing?

No one! Although they are going to have to play with 10 men because Fernando Torres is starting.

Boom, and indeed, boom.

Best performance:

Beating Chile 2-1, with the pressure on they played the perfect way to get past Chile. Taking advantage of the Chileans overcommitting in attack they exploited the space, the highlight being a David Villa screamer.

Worst performance:

The loss to Switzerland, although the quarter final with Paraguay comes close, at least until the referee got bored and started giving penalties. They were most definitely caught cold by the Swiss, but it's better to get that out of the way in the first game than turn out a performance like that now.

Why they'll win it:

On paper, have the best side left, also are the only side with players who have experience of winning international tournaments. On top of that their core is from Barcelona and they too have lots of big match experience, something that probably can't be said for the majority of the German and Uruguayan sides at least. There's also the feeling that they haven't quite come alive yet, and if they do, they will crush anyone in their path.

Why they won't win it:

They aren't actually playing that well, their biggest win was 2-0 over the mighty Honduras, and they have only won the 3 matches against better opposition by the odd goal. Vincent del Bosque's stubborn refusal to drop the clearly unfit Torres could really become a problem, in both knockout rounds they have only started playing properly after he was taken off. You also wouldn't fancy them in a penalty shootout, their record in them generally is positively England-esque, and they've missed 2 from 2 at the tournament so far. Spain taking on Germany at penalties is a bit like the Isle of Man waging war with the combined might of the US and Russia.

Mind you, Spain vs Holland in a shootout would be a like the Isle of Man waging war with the local primary school, so there's still hope.

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