To start with, it always feels good to write a blog after a break as in my humble opinion there is nothing better than writing about sports.
I see that in the last one month, I have missed out on covering lots of different sports. In cricket, I see that England have beaten Australia and it seems like at last they have decided to take the shorter formats of the game more seriously, India have reclaimed the Asia cup after fifteen long years, Rafa has won his second Wimbledon, though I still see some unfair criticism regarding him having won on green clay as the critics believe that grass courts have slowed down which has helped clay courters like Rafa to win at Wimbledon, tour de France has just started, but at present, the biggest sporting extravaganza is of course happening in South Africa as the football world cup is going on in the rainbow nation. So, after completion of 61 matches we have been left with just three teams with Spain taking on Germany today to decide who would have the right to meet the plucky Dutch team in the final.
Anyway, now let us look at both the teams.
Germany's performance in this world cup may have surprised many, but to be frank, I haven't been really surprised by their superlative performance as they have more often than not raised their game at the big stage in the world cup. If anyone disagrees with that point then how can one explain Germany reaching the final of the 2002 world cup in Japan and South Korea with an ordinary squad that was completely written off by everyone and even in 06, they reached the semifinals of the world cup at home. The only difference between most of the German sides who, have played before and now is that the present team attacks a lot more and would bring crowds to the stadium with their ability to play enterprising football.
As I said, in this world cup they have played an attacking brand of football which most of the other teams haven't been able to do in this tournament. The secret behind their ability to score goals has been a young team whose average age is just about 24 years. The advantage of having young players in the squad is, they bring fresh legs into the team and they have also shown the hunger to succeed. Most of the current team members have also tasted success in the under 21 Euro cup recently, so they aren't strangers to succeeding at the big stage.
The main player for them in this tournament has been Klose. He was disappointing for Bayern Munich last season, but just like before, he has been able to lift his game for the World cup. His greatest strength has always been the ability to provide the finishing touches by converting the chances he gets into goals. Any striker should take most of the chances that comes his way and Klose has the ability to do it. Germany also have Schweinsteier who, is a creative central midfielder. In the quarter final, he was able to block the threat of Messi and caused headaches to the weak Argentenian defence with his creative play. Germany though, would sorely miss the services of the suspended Muller. He is another ceative footballer who, can play in variety of positions as he can play the role of a midfielder or even as a striker. He has already scored four goals in this tournament and in my humble opinion has been the young player of the tournament.
As far as their tactics against Spain is concerned, they would again look for counter attacks and the way Spain play football, it should suit them as Spain tend to dominate possession and move forward leaving them vulnerable to counter attacks.
If I look at the Spain team, just like many I also thought that they were the favourites before the tournament kicked off, but they have failed to recreate the same magic of 2008 Euro cup. Yes, they have a superb team on paper, but unfortunately for Spain, football isn't played on paper.
If I look at their team, it can be said that their best player has clearly been Villa as he has been able to convert the chances he has got into goals. The same can't be said about the magical Liverpool striker Torres as just like many other stars in this world cup, he has struggled to find top form. He may still get a reprieve as I don't see Spain taking the risk of playing their inspirational midfielder Fabregas as he has been struggling with shoulder and leg injuries.
As I said before, Spain should be wary about the young German team on counter attacks as they have the fresh legs and the Spain team was caught napping a few times even against a team like Switzerland in the first round. Spain's experienced goalkeeper Casillas would be again under pressure, but he has been very consistent over the years and I do expect him to do well in a big match.
One factor that may help Spain is, occasionally when the opposition teams have moved forward the young German defence has looked a bit vulnerable. For instance, when the England team finally found some form at the end of the first half in the second round they were able to rattle the German defence and they did look clueless for a few minutes, though they regrouped well in that match as in the end, they thumped England 4-1. So, Spain's ability to dominate possession may just rattle German's defence a bit.
If I have to predict a winner in this mouth watering contest between Spain and Germany, I would go for Germany as they have shown the ability to convert the chances they have got into goals. Spain have got a superb team, but football isn't just about penetrating inside the box of the opponent team, as they have to make use of it by converting it into goals. Of course, if they play as well as they did couple of years back in the Euro cup then just like the Euro final, they can again overcome the threat possessed by Germany.