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Posted: Monday July 5, 2010 1:44PM ; Updated: Wednesday July 7, 2010 12:20PM
Georgina Turner
Georgina Turner>INSIDE THE WORLD CUP

Spain vs. Germany instant analysis

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  • 1

    Spain

  • 0

    Germany

  • '

    Pregame

    With all due respect to the Netherlands and Uruguay, this is the semi-final that we've all been having naughty thoughts about. Germany coach Joachin Löw has promised not to change the way his team plays today, insisting that "being passive will not help us." Which has got Andres Iniesta's nostrils twitching: "If they attack more, there will be more space. I don't know how the game will pan out... we both like to get forward a lot." It could be an after-effect of the triple-shot cappuccino I quaffed this afternoon, but my heart is thumping just thinking about this match.

    Without the suspended Thomas Müller to call upon, Löw has named Hamburg's Piotr Trochowski on the right side of midfield. That could mean a busy night for Joan Capdevila, since he's a bit trickier to handle than (the nonetheless majestic) Müller, though he's generally not as reliable in terms of the end product. Vicente del Bosque has dropped Fernando Torres, who hasn't looked fit so far. Spain has consistently looked more frightening without him, but it's Barcelona's Pedro who gets the nod ahead of Cesc Fabregas. He doesn't always play like his Youtube highlights, but already knows how to play alongside fellow midfielders Xavi and Iniesta, and can fair strike a ball.

     

    Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Per Mertesacker, Arne Friedrich, Jerome Boateng, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Piotr Trochowski, Mesut Özil, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose.

    Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa.

    Now, the theme for today's email chitchat is childhood sports memories. Get scribbling.


  • '

    Anthems: Deutschland first, and a cheeky young scamp of a mascot gives the camera a wink and a wave as the players strike up the first verse. You cannot fail to be roused by this anthem which, after all, is probably the point. I won't attempt another joke about Spanish players not singing along to their anthem, since no one got it last time.


  • 1'

    Kickoff: It's started! Shut up and sit down!


  • 2'

    Bulk of the possession for the Spanish in these opening minutes, though none of it too far into the German half. When Capdevila does get a chance to feed Villa, he overhits the cross.


  • 4'

    Idiot alert! A fan wafting a vuvuzela around runs onto the pitch as Germany get their feet on the ball for a bit, and the stewards manhandle him out of the stadium.


  • 7'

    Still all Spain, and Pedro makes his way down the left via several Germans before Lahm steps in -- ooh! And then Villa almost slides a fantastic ball from Pedro under Neuer! The German goalkeeper maintains his burgeoning reputation with a last-ditch save.


  • 8'

    Ozil has just misplaced a pass - I've rubbed my eyes and it definitely happened. Spain making the Germans rush a bit since they're getting the ball so rarely. "In 6th grade our class was taught soccer by Mr Kline," remembers Randy Mayes. "One time there was a free kick and I was chosen to kick the ball. All the kids crowded in around me and I kicked with all my sixth grade might. The ball rocketed a few feet, bounced off someone and slammed me on the side of my face so hard that it went numb. ONLY THEN did Mr Kline explain about the encroachment rule. I have rooted against Germany ever since. GO SPAIN!"


  • 10'

    Klose -- fed by a long ball from Schweinsteiger -- makes a monkey of Pique near the corner flag, but can't quite gain enough control of the ball to fashion a chance. First glimmer of threat from Germany.


  • 11'

    Spain were this close to slipping the ball through to Villa, twice, but Germany's defenders get their toes into the right places.


  • 14'

    This is the Spain we've been waiting for -- well, the bit where Iniesta puts a cross bang on Puyol's bonce. The miss from six yards ... not so much.


  • 16'

    Not for the first time at this tournament, Casillas flaps at a corner but escapes since no Germans can rise high enough to get a head on it. It was enough of a near-miss to make me emit the noise that elderly women make when they happen upon a petting couple at a bus stop.


  • 18'

    Germany is easing its way into the possession stats now, but Spain is still calling the tune.


  • 19'

    Ramos wastes a chance to create something from the right by lamping a shot high and wide from just outside the area. Another old lady noise -- the classic Tsk -- follows.


  • 21'

    "Not really childhood," begins Brad Sturdivant, "but I didn't take up soccer until I was in the military and I joined a league team just for fun. The only thing I knew about the game was what I saw from watching ManU games on TV and from FIFA on the PS2. But I faked it pretty well, so the coach actually put me in. In the first few minutes, a striker rushed towards me and getting all excited, I rushed in and slide tackled him, crushing his left ankle (broken in three spots) and tearing a ligament in his right knee. It was horrible. They had to call an ambulance and the game was cancelled." Wow, that's a heck of a debut. I hope you kept the press clippings.


  • 23'

    A German counterattack breaks down after a sloppy one-two between Ozil and Podolski, just as everyone watching took a sharp breath in. Klose finds himself and the ball in the box, but can't escape the attentions of five Spaniards no matter what direction he twists and turns.


  • 26'

    Boateng's backside deflects a Ramos cross up into the air, and Pedro attempts an extravagant volley as it returns to earth. The operative word being "attempts."


  • 29'

    A hold-up while Podolski receives treatment having taken a few kicks since the last update. "WORST -- last guy in the line up to bat in Little League baseball game, watching the 3 boys in front of me get PLUNKED by a TALL OVERAGE fastballing man child," recalls Kevin Juergen. "Then my turn. Sure enough, got it in the backside (better than the head). Best -- finishing third in district swim meet in the 50m freestyle."


  • 30'

    Alonso opts to shoot rather than attempt to slalom his way through about eight German players, but doesn't trouble Neuer. Spain have had four shots now; Germany none.


  • 32'

    Ooooh! Germany works the ball forwards with slightly less haste and Trochowski tries a shot from about 25 yards out. I think it was probably heading wide, but Casillas makes sure by pushing it out for a corner... which Germany doesn't do much with.


  • 35'

    Busy couple of minutes for Casillas, but his punches do the job. Spain look to break at the other end but Iniesta's attempt to find Villa, who has the right hand side of the pitch to himself, doesn't navigate its way through the backtracking Germans, who seem to number about 35.


  • 37'

    Lovely ball out to the left from Schweinsteiger to Podolski, but the Cologne man is a yard or so offside. "At 13, I moved with my family from Minnesota to Rome," says Eric Peterson, with a nostalgic sigh. "It was June 1982. I spent my first month there watching World Cup games on TV, and then going out onto the balcony and watching everyone drive up and down the boulevard waving their giant Italian flags, screaming at the top of their voices and rhythmically honking their horns. A couple of weeks before we moved back to Minnesota, I watched on TV as my beloved Roma lost the European Cup on penalties to Liverpool at the Stadio Olimpico. I still dislike Liverpool."


  • 39'

    Oezil receives the ball in the same position from which he scored that peach against Ghana, but decides to try and worm his way around Alonso and someone else in a Spain shirt (come on, this is live!) instead of having a go at goal.


  • 43'

    Spain attempt a slightly elaborate manoeuvre from a freekick on the right. It would have gone down in history if it had produced the sumptuous goal they imagined in training. Instead it's just walloped clear by the German defense, who look disgusted at the audacity of the Spanish.


  • 45'

    Pedro earns a corner from Boateng, which is about the best he could have hoped for having tried to dance his way past both he and Schweinsteiger. Pull the trigger!


  • 46'

    HALFTIME

    A moment of controversy, sort of -- Ozil bursts into the Spanish area but can't quite get the ball out of his feet and ends up being upended somewhere close to Ramos. The referee signals no penalty... Ramos didn't touch the ball, but it wasn't a nailed on penalty... Halftime now. 

     

    A thought for halftime: "Some of us are for Germany so please quit slanting the play by play for Spain" says an anonymous reader. Unfortunately, most of the play has been with Spain, but if there's a unanimous email vote that I should start making up illustrious German moves that result in goals that would make old men weep for the beauty, I might be persuaded. 

    And in any case, pulling for Spain?! I'm of German descent!


  • 47'

    Second-half: Spain start off another 45 minutes with a surge forward.


  • 48'

    Germany chase Spain at speed to retrieve the ball and then try and calm things down a bit when they've won it, but so far neither side's penetrated. Pedro is denied entry to the area by a wall of German men, so he pulls it back for Alonso, who puts another shot wide. Exciting start.


  • 49'

    "My first soccer experience was in the military as well -- although I didn't shatter any ankles," says RJ in Houston, TX. "I told a good friend of mine soccer was for girly men, and he challenged me outside to get the ball off of him. After about 30 minutes of flailing around, spraining one of my ankles and spending a lot of time on the ground wondering what just happened, I found a new respect for footballers."


  • 50'

    Alonso has another chance to fire a shot from outside the area thanks to a Xavi layoff, but it goes just wide. Neuer dived with a worried look on his face.


  • 52'

    Substitutions

    Out: Jerome Boateng , In: Marcell Jansen

    Boateng is replaced by Marcell Jansen, much to everyone's surprise, including Boateng's. Not sure Ramos has really been that much trouble.


  • 53'

    More of your sports memories while Spain win a free-kick from a not very nasty foul by Schweinsteiger on Iniesta. "At 11 years old I started playing organized softball," says Christine Swanson. "I decided to take the position of catcher since no one wanted it & I figured I would be a starter -- and I was right. In my first game, the pitcher threw a low pitch, which went under my glove to the backstop. I just sat there until the umpire told me I had to go get the ball. I was rather shocked, since my exposure to the game largely consisted of watching Major League Baseball on TV. On wayward pitches, someone always retrieved the ball for the catcher and I was expecting the same!"


  • 55'

    Villa curls the ball towards the far corner from the left tip of the box, but he didn't strike it cleanly and it trundles wide.


  • 59'

    Pedro nearly scores! And then how does Villa not make the touch! Spain sense blood here, and they're making all kinds of hip-snaking moves through the German defense. Neuer saved from Pedro and when Iniesta tucked the rebound back across goal, Villa slid in but not in time. It's starting.


  • 61'

    Sorry, that last line got a bit girl-from-the-Poltergeist-movies, didn't it. Definite upturn in pace in this match though. "Weekly local newspaper writes an article about my U12 soccer game, spring 1985," reminisces a proud Erik Helin. "It says something to the effect of "Torpedoes awarded a corner kick. Erik Helin (me) slams a high arching shot with deadly precision to Cothran, who heads it into the goal." Not bad for a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds, though the writing does seem over the top. We won that game 4 to nil, positive comments from the opposing coach about that goal were published. I still have the clipping."


  • 62'

    Xavi and Pedro take it in turns to make Schweinsteiger, of all people, look like an amateur. Toni Kroos replaces Trochowski... the man in the natty blue jumper is going for it.


  • 63'

    Ramos cuts across Podolski chasing a ball across the box, and goes down under the challenge... referee signals a goalkick, and Germany breathes again.


  • 64'

    Eighth grade basketball, I'm a 5'6" forward and my coach directs me to guard, man-to-man, a 6'3" man-child who averaged 34 points per game," remembers Gary Cliff. "It wasn't for my superior skills (I was the least qualified starter), it was because I had a tendency to piss people off. Late in the first half I had 4 fouls, Gigantor had only 6 points and enough of me. On my fifth (and last) foul, he flipped out and took a swing at me (missing!). Technical, Gigantor is sent to the showers. I rode the bench the rest of the game with a huge victory smile."


  • 65'

    Iniesta tickles a ball up and over the German defense from the left, but it doesn't float down in time for either of the advancing Spain players.


  • 67'

    Germany look like they passed a hip flask around at halftime, second to the loose ball and outpaced by the Spanish most of the time. It's rather disconcerting.


  • 69'

    And after all that Germany edge forward and Kroos sees his shot saved by Casillas at the near post! "I think it was when I was 9 or 10, but I got yelled at for the way I scored
    a goal," says Chip Updegrove. "I was playing halfback at the time, and I had chipped it over the keeper from out near the top of the box. I also hopped over the keeper, and seeing no one else was around and the ball was going to make it into the net without any further assistance, I was content to follow it without kicking the ball again. I remember being told something about "making absolutely sure" that ball was going to go in. In my mind, I scored so infrequently I was afraid I was going to knock it over the bar if I touched it again! Then I became a keeper."


  • 73'

    Spain 1-0

    Goal - Puyol

    Spain are ahead! The vuvuzelas pulse louder as Spain bear down on Neuer's goal again, and Puyol runs from deep to meet a Xavi corner with a powerful header! He really meant that, Neuer had no chance.


  • 74'

    Germany have to go at this with real intent now, and only about a quarter of an hour to do so. Spain have looked so solid for the last three quarters, however, that it's going to be a tough job.


  • 76'

    Klose almost -- I mean this close -- gets onto the end of a Kroos free-kick, but Casillas races off his line to snaffle it up. Spain are the ones having to defend now.


  • 77'

    "My first experience with World Cup was the summer of 1990 while visiting Costa Rica," emails Javier Castro. "The national team had just beaten Sweden to go into the second round and I happen to be passing a water fountain at the roundabout of a major highway. Needless to say that the Ticos were throwing water from buckets at all the passersby; it was a memorable occasion, pure pandemonium ... of course until they lost 4-1 to the Czechs."


  • 79'

    Germany try too many touches in front of the Spain defense and find themselves facing a one-on-one race between Mertesacker and Villa. Fortunately for the German, he is joined by a couple of teammates, and the danger is averted. Hectic stuff now.


  • 81'

    Substitutions

    Out: Sami Khedira , In: Mario Gomez

    Out: David Villa , In: Fernando Torres

    Khedira, who has hobbled for a lot of the second half, is replaced by striker Mario Gomez, to create a top-heavy German side for the last 10 minutes. Torres comes on for Villa, causing uproar among the Spanish supporters in the stands.


  • 82'

    That was the moment for Spain and Pedro fluffed it. He steamed towards Neuer with Torres open to his left and only Friedrich back, but tried to turn him one too many times and finds himself dispossessed by Kroos. What a waste!


  • 85'

    Substitutions

    Out: Pedro , In: David Silva

    Alonso brings down Oezil but claims the ball, and almost talks himself into the book when he reacts to the freekick given against him. Unbelievably, having given that one, the referee doesn't give Schweinsteiger a freekick just outside the area after a late slide from Puyol. Pedro is replaced by David Silva.


  • 87'

    Lahm swings another ball into the box from the right, but Spain defend stoutly. Then Torres breaks but puts a simple pass to Silva well behind his man. Still, Spain are three minutes plus stoppage time from the final. "I'm 12, playing for the little-league travelling team," says Clinton Lindsey, setting the scene. "I'm the catcher, and I use my incessant chatter to psyche out the opposing batters. Except on a crucial at-bat, I caused my own pitcher to laugh out loud, and he balked home the winning run for the opposing team. I never lived that one down."


  • 88'

    Frantic times for Germany, who are playing a 3-1-6 formation at the moment. Torres tries to work his way around Friedrich but has to settle for a corner.


  • 90'

    It's not going to happen for Germany. They can't get out of their own final third at the moment.


  • 91'

    Three minutes of added time ...


  • 92'

    Just as it looked like the Spanish lines might open up, Gomez overhits a through ball and Casillas collects. The whistle is so close now ...


  • 93'

    Spain swap Alonso for Marchena to waste a bit more time. If Spain win, Marchena has 54 caps without losing.


  • 94'

    FULLTIME

    The final whistle's gone! Spain have finally made it to a World Cup final, which means we'll definitely have a new champion on Sunday.

    That was a frantic second-half and a completely absorbing game of soccer. There are tears in the eyes of the Spanish players, who are leaping about all over the place. They got this match exactly right. The Germans look like they're not quite sure what happened to them; they never found the space and time to play their usual game today. Thanks for joining me today, and for all your emails -- sorry I couldn't squeeze them all in. See you on Sunday for the final.


This is Spain's first foray into the semifinals of the World Cup, but Fernando Torres says he and his chums will be treating this match like a final. Which might help, since Spain played Germany off the park in the final of Euro2008. The Germans look rather more awe-inspiring in their current incarnation, mind you, and have bagged eight goals in their last two matches. Can they continue their scintillating run here?

Join me from 2.15 p.m. ET for all the latest updates and then (at least!) 90 minutes of live action and email banter -- georgina.turner.si@gmail.com is the address you need.

 
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