Spain’s attacking play should suit Germany
Spain against Germany, by itself, is a World Cup Final. Except for the early game against Serbia, Germany have been the best and most improving team in the tournament, while Spain are champions of Europe. Lothar Matthaus ponders.sports Updated: Jul 06, 2010 01:12 IST
Spain against Germany, by itself, is a World Cup Final. Except for the early game against Serbia, Germany have been the best and most improving team in the tournament, while Spain are champions of Europe, with more than half the team of Barcelona, including the best midfield in the world. It promises to be a magnificent match.
I forecast that Germany would defeat Argentina although I was surprised at just how easily they achieved this. Tactically, Germany were excellent, denying the Argentinean midfield possession, and suffocating Messi, Tevez and Higuain. When Germany had chances they were created with precision and dispatched with clinical efficiency.
Football is a team game; it is about combining a mix of talents and creating something bigger than its individual components. Coach Loew has achieved this. Lahm led the defence magnificently and Schweinsteiger played a superb game in midfield, but it was the team as a whole that shut down Messi and Argentina.
Mueller, Podolski and Klose, sparked by Ozil, lit fires all over the field and torched a brittle Argentine back-line. It was the same as they achieved against Australia and England. If there is a question mark over this team, it is in its ability to break down teams who adopt a very defensive approach and look to counter-attack. Serbia defeated them playing this way, Ghana proved very stubborn opponents.
Germany like teams to open up and attack, to leave spaces into which Podolski, Ozil, Mueller and Klose can break. They are not so good when teams deny them space.
Spain play attacking football, which should suit Germany, but they are a very good team, tactically aware, individually gifted, and yet to show their true potential. Their midfield is magnificent, although against Paraguay they really struggled.
Torres again failed to perform, Villa, other than his goal, contributed little. Xavi Alonso was disappointing and missed a penalty on the second kick, having scored with the first but having had it ruled out. Paraguay had their chances, missing a penalty of their own.
In the final minutes, Casillas rescued a lead that had been achieved with a goal that had seen the ball first hit both posts. They stumbled and fell into the semi-final. Spain carry the burden of never having won the World Cup, of having talented teams that always failed to live up to their potential. This team will hope to change all that.
After all, as champions of Europe, they have already proven they have a winning mentality. I feel that either team can win the semifinal.
First Published: Jul 06, 2010 01:09 IST