July 07, 2010

Germany, Spain One Win from World Cup Final: Germany meets Spain today in the second World Cup semifinal. The match pits the rising striker David Villa against all-time great World Cup scorer Miroslav Klose, who is just one goal shy of tying Ronaldo's record of 15 goals. German coach Joachim Loew's lucky sweater has become sold out in stores. Germans have to travel to the Netherlands to buy one.

posted by rcade to soccer at 12:15 PM - 27 comments

I'm rooting for Spain and David Villa, but I think the Germans will beat them as handily as they dispatched England and Argentina. The team football they are playing right now is incredible.

posted by rcade at 01:05 PM on July 07

The big difference between Spain and Argentina/England is they have a midfield that is absolutely stacked with talent (and bodies). I don't expect Germany to be able to break them down as easily as they did their previous opponents. That said, I also expect Germany to hold the ball a little more than any opponent that Spain has had thus far. Should be an interesting game.

I expect Spain to do just enough to progress.

posted by trox at 01:11 PM on July 07

Semi-serious question: why isn't the first half just 45 (or 46) minutes with the injury time tacked onto the injury time in the second half? It seems like 90% of these games have had 1 minute of injury time in the first half regardless of what happened on the field.

posted by yerfatma at 03:20 PM on July 07

I expect Spain to do just enough to progress

Good call ...

Just enough on the scoresheet, but they dominated the game start to finish.

Germany looked like they missed Muller. They didn't break Spain much at all and were outnumbered in their offensive zone.

Good game overall, well officiated, nothing in the way of diving or cheap fouls to speak of. Two teams who respected each other playing hard.

posted by cixelsyd at 04:36 PM on July 07

It seems like 90% of these games have had 1 minute of injury time in the first half regardless of what happened on the field.

Unwritten convention. It's very rare, even if there's an injury or stoppage to merit it, to see more added time at the end of the first half than the second. It's also more common to see the half-time whistle blown when a team's setting up a corner or attacking free kick than at the end of a match, where no ref wants to do a Clive Thomas.

Spain have done just enough to get through all tournament, and that's often the mark of a winner, for better or worse. I think I'll be going with the Dutch for a sentimental win, because I'm not really a fan of tiki-bulshita, but if they do win, it'll be deserving, and will underwrite the current pre-eminence of the Spanish game, by which I mean "Real and Bara".

I fear for the octopus.

posted by etagloh at 05:39 PM on July 07

Pretty much as advertised there. The Spanish style of incredibly patient ball movement is the picturebook way to defuse a counter attacking side and while Spain play four midfielders - something the Germans have exploited twice for four goals in the knockout rounds - Spain's four are all central.

I have to feel that Germany - Holland would have been a better final and much as we needed an early German goal today, we need an early Dutch goal on Sunday or we'll see another hour of technical, but dull football.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 06:43 PM on July 07

Spain are reminding me of Italy last time around, not with style of play but starting slowly and then just getting the job done. Wonder if any player will provoke a headbutt or similar Sunday.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:30 PM on July 07

Also, ESPN3 was practically useless for watching, should have gone home like I planned.

posted by billsaysthis at 07:31 PM on July 07

Nice post-mortem from Raphael Honigstein.

posted by yerfatma at 08:43 PM on July 07

Yep, I think this about sums it up. From yerfatma's link.

...but in truth, it's difficult to show conviction when you're being asphyxiated. Germany was never able to escape the red cage the Spaniards built for them just outside their own box, didn't enjoy enough possession and consequently spent "a lot of time chasing the ball"

I can see that happening Sunday. I just hope the Dutch are creative and fresh enough to make some moves. Van Persie showed a little better form last game and with Robben, Schneider, Kuyt etc. we'll have a little deeper talent all over the pitch than the Germans had. Maybe, Elia off the bench can help? A wildcard play, I know. The Dutch still seem to need a spark somewhere.

And yes, we need an early Dutch goal on Sunday or we'll see another hour of technical, but dull football.

posted by tselson at 12:06 AM on July 08

Useless World Cup trivia:

  • This is the first time since 1978 (Argentina/Netherlands) where the finals involves no teams that have previously won the World Cup.

  • This is the first time since 1954 (West Germany/Hungary) where two European teams have met, and neither one has won the World Cup.

  • This is the 8th meeting (1934, 1938, 1954, 1966, 1974, 1982, 2006) between two European teams in the final game, but the first time outside of Europe.

  • If Spain wins, that means that only one team went undefeated in the South Africa World Cup finals: New Zealand.

  • If the Netherlands wins in regulation time on Sunday, they'll become only the third team (Brazil in 2002, Uruguay in 1930) to neither lose, draw, or even require extra-time (or penalty shoot-out) in any of their games.
  • posted by grum@work at 01:00 AM on July 08

Or any of their qualification games I think.

I went to the pub last night to watch the game. I was in the gents after the game finished and this German guy walked in. As he unzipped and started to pee he sighed heavily: "Fucking octopus." Laugh? I thought I'd never stop.

posted by JJ at 04:05 AM on July 08

Or any of their qualification games I think.

Right.

I just hope the Dutch are creative and fresh enough to make some moves.

Oh, they are.

posted by yerfatma at 08:37 AM on July 08

I expect Spain to do just enough to progress

I get the sense from watching Spain that they are basically Barcelona minus the two goals per game Messi either scores or sets up. So they still keep possession and dominate play, but win 1-0 instead of 3-0.

posted by holden at 10:30 AM on July 08

we need an early Dutch goal on Sunday or we'll see another hour of technical, but dull football.

I wouldn't call the passing display Spain put on Germany as dull. Anything but. Most of their passing was not far from the penalty box and when it wasn't it was building up towards the box.

Spain had 13 shots to Germanys 5. What did surprise me was Spain only had 51% possession for the game. It seemed like they had 70% of it.

posted by Ricardo at 10:42 AM on July 08

Like you I was bemused when I looked at FIFA's numbers and saw they had Spain with 51% possession. The BBC had Spain at 61% and ESPN had it a little higher than that. It certainly didn't look like Germany had virtually even possession.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 10:53 AM on July 08

I could buy the 51% number, but I'd want some sort of "quality of possession" index to go along with it. The most impressive thing about Spain last night was how high up the field they pressed the ball. I could believe that Germany had 49% of the possession, but I suspect a lot more than half of that was in their own half, and that any prolonged spells of possession they had involved the keeper at least once.

posted by JJ at 11:26 AM on July 08

Spain are reminding me of Italy last time around, not with style of play but starting slowly and then just getting the job done.

The exact same thing can be said for the Netherlands.

posted by trox at 11:54 AM on July 08

Does FIFA/ESPN/anyone track time of possession in the opposing half? I think that would be a better indicator of pressure than the possession percentage.

posted by grum@work at 12:09 PM on July 08

Someone does, as I remember hearing before the semi-finals that Holland had a smaller percentage of their total possession in the opposition half than any of the other remaining teams.

Clearly it hasn't done them too much harm.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 12:25 PM on July 08

At one point during the 1st half Spain had 68% of the possession.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 12:48 PM on July 08

According to FIFA's heat mapping stuff, 25% of Germany's possession was in their defensive third of the field, with only 22% in their attacking third.

By contrast, 14% of Spain's possession was in their defensive third. 31% of Spain's possession came in Germany's defensive third.

Xavi covered the most distance of any player both overall and in possession and this is his heat map from the game, which is almost entirely in Germany's half of the field.

posted by Mr Bismarck at 01:01 PM on July 08

That isn't surprising as Xavi was popping up everywhere looking for the ball. That was one of the best performances by a playmaker I've ever seen. Even though he didn't create any actual goals, he had an absolutely fantastic game.

posted by Ricardo at 03:05 PM on July 08

posted by Ricardo at 03:05 PM on July 08

Last team to beat the Netherlands?

posted by owlhouse at 07:16 AM on July 09

Exactly, Owly. If they win the World Cup, Australia will be the moral victors. I wish people would stop giving me reasons to support Spain.

posted by JJ at 07:35 AM on July 09

One reason not to support Spain is that if they win, the only undefeated team from the whole tournament would be New Zealand. Nobody wants that.

posted by JJ at 07:36 AM on July 09

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