Germany to brush aside Spain?
On the face of it, Spain don’t have much hope against the Germans in the World Cup Semi Finals later today, do they?
With Fernando Torres out of sorts and the team becoming increasingly reliant on David Villa (for me the outstanding performer in the finals thus far), the Spanish team has struggled to find the fluid form that made them long term favourites for the World Cup before a Jabulani ball was kicked in anger this summer. Defensively they have also been far too reliant on the brilliant Iker Casillas and goals have been hard to come by.

In contrast, Germany have swept almost all before them. They began the competition with a 4-0 demolition of Australia, before some inept refereeing reduced them to ten men and eventual defeat against Serbia. The Germans bounced back against Ghana, but showed their class really in their two knockout phase games, demolishing England and then Argentina to book a fully deserved semi final place.

So much so that from 16/1 outsiders before the tournament began, the Germans are now hot favourites with many bookmakers to lift the trophy outright.
Such has been the quality of the German’s counter attacking football that Wednesday nights game is a mere formality. Germany will go 1-0 up, Spain will try to bounce back and they will get caught on the counter attack as England and Argentina succumbed before them.
Right? I’m not so sure.

While recognising the talent that the Germans have shown, I still maintain that they can only play one way. On the counter attack, although they do this exceptionally well and it makes them hugely dangerous.
I think though the game with Serbia is being overlooked for a variety of reasons. Klose was sent off admittedly, but even before that Serbia were looking capable of scoring. Even when they were a goal down (and admittedly a man down) Germany struggled to create anything of note and their penalty was eventually gifted them by a piece of laughable defending by Nemanja Vidic.

When they were forced to go on the offensive, they were lacking and this, I feel, is Spain’s best chance.
For me the Semi final will be decided by the first goal. If Germany score it, as they did with Argentina, then I think they will win. However if Spain score it, then I think Germany’s chances of victory greatly diminish and Spain’s increase.

It isn’t so much the goal, but how that will affect how each team will be forced to play. If Spain score first then Germany then will be forced to come out onto the attack. This will then expose their defence (which I believe is a real weakness, that is yet to be fully exploited) and I can see the likes of Xavi, Iniesta and in particular David Villa causing the Germans untold problems on the break, in much the same way Muller, Oezil and Klose did to England and Argentina.

If Germany score first, then we could well end up with the semi final going the way of the two previous knockout games involving Germany before it.
But, here’s the salient point, Spain are a far more accomplished team than either England or Argentina.

They are European Champions, they have a strength in depth that most teams can only dream about. They have Fernando Torres and David Villa and the heart of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s midfield (plus Cesc Fabregas) beating steadily behind them. That is a quality that even Argentina cannot claim to match yet.
So this could be a special one and although it’s never wise to back against the Germans, that’s what I’d do. I think Spain have what it takes to take this one against the odds.

But, that first goal is going to be so crucial.