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Germany missed Mueller badly

india Updated: Jul 09, 2010 00:32 IST
Franz Beckenbauer
Franz Beckenbauer
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Anyone who tipped a World Cup final between Spain and The Netherlands can be congratulated for having the visionary talent of a clairvoyant. It means we will, for first time, be seeing an all-European final outside the European continent.

What's also remarkable is the fact that it will be the first World Cup final for Spain in its federation's history. The Dutch have also been waiting 32 years for this moment.

I personally had been hoping Germany would be in the final in Johannesburg on Sunday. The German team has given this World Cup some of its lustre. There was real quality about the victories over England and Argentina.

Germany made players like England's Wayne Rooney and Argentina's world footballer of the year, Lionel Messi, look ordinary in the respective 4-1 and 4-0 victories. I am also certain Germany would have had a good chance of beating Spain had Thomas Mueller not been suspended. Mueller's yellow card for a handball offence against Argentina was a poor joke.

Mueller has proved phenomenal when he gets near the goal. Apart from the two goals he scored against England or the header, which gave Germany an early lead against Argentina, he also made the second against Argentina for Miroslav Klose by knocking the ball forward while he was lying on the ground.

He is dangerous in front of goal. A real pity he was missing against Spain. However, I am hoping Germany can look forward to a bright future. The young team, with an average age of around 25, has shown that German football is not just all about fight and will to win, but also has players who have endeared themselves to many with their skills on the ball.

The Spanish have not convinced me throughout this tournament. That has something to do with the fact that they had a sorry-looking striker in Fernando Torres.

It was left to the fleet-footed Andres Iniesta and passing supremo Xavi to produce the goods. With Spain, there seems to be a ban on beginning an attack unless the ball has gone three times through Xavi.

On the one hand, I love this combination football. On the other, I sometimes have the feeling that Spain could pass the ball all night without scoring a goal. If they didn't have David Villa, the scorer of five goals so far, where would they be?

However, Spain are favourites in the final. Their good old coach Vicente del Bosque has nearly always enjoyed success. Besides, Spain have a seasoned team with six players from Barcelona and three from Real Madrid. They know each other's game so well and, despite the club rivalry, get on superbly on and off the pitch.

The Netherlands won't be able to barricade themselves in defence as Switzerland did in their opening 1-0 victory over Spain.

If Spain raise the pace of their game, as they often do in the second half, if Sergio Ramos can get forward on the right, if Xabi Alonso takes shots from outside the area and Torres finally explodes, the Dutch won't have a chance. And yet they do have their chances. I know well my Dutch players at Bayern. There is no one better equipped both to neutralise the opponent’s midfield and crank up his own team than Mark van Bommel. And then the Dutch have Arjen Robben, really a right-winger in disguise, who has now become a big favourite in Munich.

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