In this world everyone has a different opinion of everything and that’s what makes it a great place to be, if we all agreed about all issues then it would be pretty boring which brings me to today’s game, a game I really enjoyed I thought it was a great portrait of passing football from Spain, impressive defending and counter attacking from the Germans, yeah it didn’t have bags of goals, but it was proper interesting football, I totally understand if some people found it boring or dull, and that’s the right everyone has I respect that, however I would easily watch that game again.

Spain started very bright, and went about attacking the German defence, Pedro in for Torres couldn’t have asked for a better start, a great first touch, and he looked very much in the mood, Villa started in the middle and struggled to find space around the area, in the first half Pedro moved from right to left and always looked to get on the ball, the first chance came when Pedro slipped in Villa, his outstretched foot met the ball but Manuel Neuer was out fast to close them down and make the save. The only other chance to mention was from Andrea Iniesta’s cross when Puyol rose and headed the ball over the ball, a danger sign for the Germans, Podolski and Ozil nearly combined for a breakaway chance but Podolski’s pass was slightly behind Ozil, Ozil also had a penalty shout denied when Ramos collided with him on the stroke of half time, not a penalty for me as Ramos doesn’t actually tackle him, I think Ozil just fell over. An interesting 45 minutes “a chess game” if you will Germany trying to suck the Spanish in and counter, and the Spanish happy to control the tempo of the game but without getting in behind very often, frustrating at times because of the class that Spain have, but still nice to watch.

The second half saw Spain pile on the pressure again but this time they got a bit more joy and cause more problems, Villa and Ramos came close to converting low crosses to the back post, Xabi Alonso came very close with two efforts from outside the box, the Germans were pushed further and further back and found it hard to break out because they were so deep, it was getting inevitable that a Spain goal would come. And come it did, 17 minutes to go Xavi whipped in a corner and Puyol unmarked rose and powered a wonderful header passed the helpless Neuer, his 3 international goal, and I don’t think he’ll score another more important, unless it’s on Sunday.

The Germans tried their best to get back into the game, but it just wasn’t there day, Podolski and Klose never got a sniff at goal and Ozil was kept tightly marked by Busquets and Alonso, they will be back stronger in 2 years and they are my favourites to win Euro 2012.

GERMANY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      Carles PUYOL (73′)  
         
1.Manuel NEUER     1.Iker CASILLAS  
3.Arne FRIEDRICH     3.Gerard PIQUE  
6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 81   5.Carles PUYOL  
7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Mesut ÖZIL     7.David VILLA OUT – 81
10.Lucas PODOLSKI     8.XAVI  
11.Miroslav KLOSE     11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI OUT – 62   14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 93
16.Philipp LAHM     15.Sergio RAMOS  
17.Per MERTESACKER     16.Sergio BUSQUETS  
20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 52   18.PEDRO OUT – 86
         
Subs     Subs  
12.Tim WIESE     2.Raul ALBOIL  
22.Hans Jorg BUTT     4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 93
2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 52   9.Fernando TORRES IN – 81
4.Dennis AOGO     10.Cesc FABERGAS  
5.Serdar TASCI     12.Victor VALDES  
9.Stefan KIEßLING     13.Juan MATA  
13.Thomas MULLER SUS   17.Alvaro ARBELOA  
14.Holger BADSTUBER     19.Fernando LLORENTE  
18.Toni KROOS IN – 62   20.Javi MARTINEZ  
19.CACAU     21.David SILVA IN – 86
21.Marko MARIN     22.Jesus NAVAS  
23.Mario GOMEZ IN – 81   23.Pepe REINA  

MY THOUGHTS

Pedro was the man of the match for me, always getting open, attacked the German defenders in a way Villa and Torres just don’t do getting them to turn and chase he was like a fly in the ear of the German defence, his passing was on point, had a couple of shots on goal and until the goal he looked like the only way Spain would get a goal, he should have set up a goal for Torres with the Germans pilling forward he was found wide open on the right a 2 on 1 with Torres and maybe youthful naivety got the best of him and he tried to go it alone when he should have squared it, I really hope he starts in the final, he deserves it, capping off a wonderful season for the young Spaniard.

Alonso, Xavi and Busquets were superb running out of words for these guys, Xavi hardly lost the ball all game kept the game flowing with the constant passing, Busquets also played very well closing down Ozil then not giving Schweinsteiger any time on the ball apart from the defensive side his passing was impressive too, usually underrated by most people he is an important part of the Spain side, not sure they always need Alonso and Busquets together.

A quiet night for Villa, he works so much better while operating on the left, but he sacrificed himself for the team, not sure where Del Bosque will play him in the final, he’ll need his star man to be at his best to win the biggest game of them all.

The Germans didn’t play anywhere near the way they did against England and Argentina, they missed Thomas Muller, as well as Trochowski played he just doesn’t have the power and physicality that the Bayern man brings and this slowed down the counter attacking prowess they had showed previously, Mertesacker and Friedrich played well for a duo that have been told they are not that good all tournament they didn’t show any of that and Spain found it hard to get past them.

Klose and Ozil were marked out the game, Podolski never once linked up with Klose which was disappointing. Schweinsteiger and Khedira played a good match, I really like Schweni in this central role, he needs to show a bit more of his attacking side at times however his passing and reading of the game has been second to none in this tournament.

I wanted the Germans to go all the way in this tournament as they had played the best football so far, however they got outplayed this evening by Spain, the best team went through in the end.

FINAL – NETHERLANDS v SPAIN

So we have the line-up of the final game, the “Total Football” of the Dutch and the “Tiki Taka” of the Spanish, I don’t want to jinx it, however it has the potential to be a fantastic final, both teams don’t like sitting back, they have creativity all over the pitch, it will either be end to end, or cancel each other out.

Either way after the game is done we will be looking at the 8th country to win the World Cup trophy and surely that is as special as it gets for the first African World Cup.

I am going to back Holland to win; this however could be their downfall.

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Well we’re down to 4 teams, 3 Europeans, 1 South American, 2 teams that have won it before, 2 that are European Champions but never won the main prize, 1 team with a star striker suspended another with a star striker not playing at his best and his place being questioned, 4 countries with fans that will be on the end of their seat in the next 48 hours, unfortunately only two of them can make the final, no disgrace for the loser, but the World Cup Final is surely still the pinnacle that all players would love to play in, isn’t it?

URUGUAY

2

 

NETHERLANDS

3

Diego FORLAN (41′)     Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST (18′)  
Maxi PEREIRA (90+2′)     Wesley SNEIJDER (70′)  
      Arjen ROBBEN (73′)  
         
1.Fernando MUSLERA     1.Maarten STEKELENBERG  
3.Diego GODIN     3.John HEITINGA  
5.Walter GARGANO     4.Joris MATHIJSEN  
6.Mauricio VICTORINO     5.Giovanni VAN BRONCKHORST – C  
7.Edinson CAVANI     6.Mark VAN BOMMEL – Y  
10.Diego FORLAN – C OUT – 84   7.Dirk KUYT  
11.Alvaro Pereira OUT – 78   9.Robin VAN PERSIE  
15.Diego PEREZ     10.Wesley SNEIJDER – Y  
16.Maximiliano PEREIRA – Y     11.Arjen ROBBEN OUT – 89
17.Egidio AREVALO     12.Khalid BOULAHROUZ – Y  
22.Martin CACERES – Y     14.Demy DE ZEEUW OUT – 46
         
Subs     Subs  
2.Diego LUGANO     16.Michel VORM  
4.Jorge FUCILE  SUS   22.Sander BOSCHKER  
8.Sebastian EGUREN     2.Gregory VAN DER WIEL  SUS
9.Luis SUAREZ  SUS   8.Nigel DE JONG  SUS
12.Juan CASTILLO     13.Andre OOIJER  
13.Sebastian ABREU IN – 78   15.Edson BRAAFHEID  
14.Nicolas LODEIRO  INJ   17.Eljero ELIA IN – 89
18.Ignacio GONZALEZ     18.Stijn SCHAARS  
19.Andres SCOTTI     19.Ryan BABEL  
20.Alvaro FERNANDEZ     20.Ibrahim AFELLAY  
21.Sebastian FERNANDEZ IN – 84   21.Klass Jan HUNTELAAR  
23.Martin SILVA     23.Rafael VAN DER VAART IN – 46

What a really good game, it probably only had about 15-20 minutes that it went a bit stale, when it got going it really got going. Some more superb goals, some questionable decisions and a grand stand finish. The Oranje took the lead on 18 minutes, a nice passing move led Sneijder to lay the ball of to van Bronckhorst he had a look up and tried his luck, and what a try it was an absolute missile into the top corner Muslera got a finger to it but it wasn’t enough, a great goal to kick off the game. Uruguay had possibly been the better team before the goal looking the more comfortable on the ball, the goal settled the Dutch down and they went about trying to find a second. The game looked to be staying the same towards the break, that was until Diego Forlan decided to grace us with another World Cup beauty, putting the ball onto his unfancied left foot, he let rip and the swerve caught Stekelenberg off guard and he could only get a hand onto it and watch it ripple the net.

For 15 minutes the second half was a very cagey affair both teams seeming to know what was up for grabs and the tension stalled the game a little, then in a bit of a strange moment Sneijder found some space on the edge of the box, he tried to curl an effort it came off a defender just missed van Persie’s foot and beat Muslera to the near post, the goal seemed to stun everyone, Uruguay fans couldn’t see how the ball had beat their goalie and the Dutch were shocked to be in the lead again. Then came what would be the killer blow, Kuyt free on the left got the ball onto his right and crossed a teasing ball in, Robben had found a great position and a lovely header back towards the near post had Muslera beaten all ends up and it sent the Dutch fans delirious with delight, surely they were going to their first World Cup final since 1974.

Uruguay had 17 minutes to save their tournament but it came all little too little, they won a free kick on the 90th minute it was put wide to Maxi Pereira he cut inside onto his left foot and curled a lovely shot past Stekelenberg a great goal but not enough to save the boys from Montevideo, the next three minutes saw Uruguay set siege upon the Dutch goal and in the last seconds Gargano nearly found some space to craft a shot but he was smothered and couldn’t get the shot off, the ball was then cleared and to every Dutch fans relief the referee blew his whistle and sent their team in the Final, the favourites had staved off the underdogs fight a most enjoyable game, much better than semi-finals usually produce.

MY THOUGHTS

Players of the game for me were Robben and Sneijder for the Dutch, and Forlan, Cavani and Adriano Pereira for Uruguay, Robben had an excellent game, started on the right, drifted to the left at times, and he was a constant threat his pace means you have to respect the distance you keep from him, but his skill means you don’t want to give him time on the ball, I thought Caceres and Pereira did well to contain him at times but you are never going to keep him quiet for 90 minutes, scoring an unchareteristic header, he had a couple of other half chances, but when your Arjen Robben just being on the pitch causes teams problems.

Sneijder again was the architect of the Dutch attacks, always open for a pass, great sense of where the space is on the field, another goals that makes it 5 for the tournament, maybe another own goals, but you don’t get the luck unless you have a go and he is going to get shots off and create chances, he has been one of the players of the tournament and it was evidentaly clear why by tonights performance.

Forlan spearheaded the uruguay attack and probably by his standards he had a quiet night, but his goal was superb and he is just a quality footballer, he missed Suarez, Suarez being in the middle allows Diego to drift, and Cavani and Forlan are quite similar in that way which doesn’t always work upfront, at times Cavani made some superb runs without the ball I was screaming at the TV for Pereira and Forlan to try and find him but it’s easy to see these passes when your not there on the pitch, he impressed me with his movement.

Adriano Pereira ran a tireless shift tonight given the job to help Careces on the left back spot when needed but then asked to bomb forward and protect the front two, a thankless task but he did it without complaint for the 78 minutes he was on the pitch.

Uruguay played very well and should be proud, maybe 2 quality players away from being a superb team, if they had a midfielder was great ability I would back them to go all the way, with Forlan they have a World Class forward, look forward to seeing how they progress for the Copa America, The Dutch again won the game without playing superb football but it was good enough to win the game and that’s what matters, they seem to be hotting up at the right time, I think they would prefer the grudge match with the Germans, but both Opponents will test their defence.

You can’t ask for more than 5 goals in a Semi-Final and I really hope tomorrow’s game lives up to the expectation, but usually they don’t.

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