A repeat of last year’s final. Both teams not where they want to be in the league. Chance to put domestic chors to one side and relive the final from May. Secret Interista Gav Stone famed editor of the Les Rosbifs website looks at how the Nerazzurri will fare.

It is a different Inter side who will be up against Bayern Munich this time around in the Champions League, compared to the one who beat The German side in the final last May. In between the Mourinho/Milito masterclass in Madrid and the first leg of this last 16 fixture, the nerazzurri have also been through a soul-sapping stint in the hands of Rafa Benitez, which did the club nor the coach any favours.

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Bayern Munich struggling in 10th travelled to the Imtech Arena to take on 5th place Hamburg. Louis van Gaal unable to pick Robben, van Bommel, Klose or Ribery stuck to his 4-2-3-1 formation, Ukrainian midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk continued in the centre of defence alongside Holger Badstuber. Danijel Pranjić at left back, Ottl and Altintop in midfield gave the team a patched up look.

Armin Veh playing 4-4-2 with Trochowski in the hole behind the front pairing of Guerrero and van Nistlerooy, the manager was also boosted by the inclusion of Mladen Petric on the bench back from injury the home fans would have been confident in taking on the Munich giants.

After a very sluggish start to the game from both sides Hamburg began to put their foot on the ball. Bayern’s tactic was to play a high defensive line trying to squeeze the game and restrict the time Hamburg’s players had on the ball.

It worked well and they continually won the ball back with ease, the problem being there was no quality to any of Bayern’s passes so the ball was given away far too often and Hamburg continued to heap on the pressure.

Without the ball Bayern’s defence sat very narrow, Lahm and Pranjić tucking inside to protect the makeshift central partnership, Collin Benjamin and Marcell Jansen used this to their advantage, constantly finding plenty of space to get forward they both saw lots of the ball early on.

The first chance of the game inevitibley came from a Bayern defensive area, Tymoschuk got himself in a muddle and was caught underneath a cross, Lahm couldn’t react, the ball fell to Paolo Guerrero and luckily for the Ukrainian his shot fizzed wide of the post.

Seeing this close call seemed to wake up Bayern’s midfield and for the first time they got on the front foot and a few minutes of pressure followed, Thomas Müller going close with a powerful shot, deflected over the bar but no corner was given.

Hamburg then gave themselves a little break from pressuring the ball high up the pitch allowing Bayern more time on the ball, Schweinsteiger and Kroos trying to pull the strings, Pranjić and Lahm finding some space to advance up the pitch, unfortunately Schweinsteiger was receiving the ball far too deep in the midfield to cause any damage in Hamburg’s defence, Armin Veh’s men looked very comfortable.

Mario Gómez cast a lonely shadow upfront lacking any support or service it was a frustrating night for last weeks hat-trick hero, without the ball everyone but Gómez worked to bet behind the ball, once in possession the midfield couldn’t close the gap from the striker and most moves petered out.

Bayern’s best chance of the first half came from a fast break after a tidy move Toni Kroos really should have put Hamit Altintop in on goal, the man with the best cheekbones in football was furious with the young German when the shot sailed over the bar.

Very few clear cut chances in the first half, Bayern’s tactics limited Hamburg’s space Piotr Trochowski touches could have been counted on one hand, the most excitement was when Franck Rost had to come off after a Schweinsteiger challenge, Czech Jaroslav Drobny took his place in net just before the Half Time whistle.

Louis van Gaal must have had a stern word for his team at the interval as they came out in the Second Half was a full tank of gas, closing the ball down all over the pitch and not giving Hamburg any space at all, however it is not good enough to only limit your opponents you need to show some attacking ambition.

Glimpses of Thomas Müller’s talents and the driving runs of Schweinsteiger at times breathed life into the Bayern attack but it was ineffective as a Wayne Rooney apology and Hamburg had enough to resist the attacks.

Substitutions were made and Armin Veh choose to freshen up the front line, Mladen Petric and Maxim Choupo-Moting replaced Guerrero and van Nistlerooy, it made an instant impact, the more mobile Moting was able to close down the Bayern defence faster, his runs made space for Jonathan Pitroipa to ghost through the centre of Bayern’s defence.

The movement of Petric, Moting and Pitroipa upset a tired fragile Bayern defence and with Trochowski becoming more influential the smart money would have been on a Hamburg goal. Schweinsteiger tried another of his trademark runs but lost the ball cheaply, Petric had dropped into that space, with time and space on the ball he released Pitroipa with a perfectly weighted pass, clear through on goal the Burkina Faso midfielder’s shot beat Butt but couldn’t beat the post, wheeling away to celebrate Pitroipa could only watch his shot crash off the woodwork.

In the end both teams struggled to create many chances, Bayern fans may have questioned why van Gaal didn’t try something else, the like for like change Gómez for Olic didn’t add anything to the game, bringing Olic on for Kroos for the last 15 minutes could have helped Bayern’s cause, van Gaal’s hands were pretty much tied by the lack of options available to him.

Armin Veh will see this as two points dropped, his team played well in patches, with the amount of possession Hamburg had they should have created many more chances, and that’s what will worry Veh the most.

 FINAL SCORE: Hamburg 0 Bayern Munich 0

Hamburg v Bayern Munich – Tactical Extra

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Two of football’s heavyweights met in the Quarter Finals yesterday, 2 team playing great football, a shame they both couldn’t go through. In the other match it was underdogs vs favourites, Paraguay trying to shock the world by eliminating the Spanish.

ARGENTINA

0

 

GERMANY

4

      Thomas MULLER (3′)  
      Miroslav KLOSE (67′, 89′)  
      Arne FRIEDRICH (74′)  
         
         
22.Sergio ROMERO     1.Manuel NEUER  
2.Martin DEMICHELIS     3.Arne FRIEDRICH  
4.Nicolas BURDISSO     6.Sami KHEDIRA OUT – 77
6.Gabriel HEINZE     7.Bastian SCHWEINSTEIGER  
7.Angel DI MARIA OUT – 75   8.Mesut ÖZIL  
9.Gonzalo HIGUAIN     10.Lucas PODOLSKI  
10.Lionel MESSI     11.Miroslav KLOSE  
11.Carlos TEVEZ     13.Thomas MULLER – Y OUT – 84
14.Javier MASCHERANO – C – Y     16.Philipp LAHM  
15.Nicolas OTAMENDI – Y OUT – 70   17.Per MERTESACKER  
20.Maxi RODRIGUEZ     20.Jerome BOATENG OUT – 72
         
Subs     Subs  
16.Sergio AGUERO IN – 75   2.Marcell JANSEN IN – 72
23.Javier PASTORE IN – 70   15.Piotr TROCHOWSKI IN – 84
      18.Toni KROOS IN – 77

MY THOUGHTS

From start to finish the Germans dominated the match, a great start to the match Thomas Muller flicking in Schweinsteiger’s free kick, the German machine just rolled on, Argentina never looked like causing any problems, 1-0 at half time the germans looked comfortable, and extended the lead in the second half when Podolski got three on the left and he found Klose alone in the box and he wasn’t gonna miss from there.

Arne Friedrich added his first ever goal after Schweinsteiger’s fabulous solo run, and Ozil played a lovely pass over the top of the Argentine’s and found Klose and he levelled Gerd Muller’s 14 World Cup goals, and capped off a wonderful day for Germany. Argentina just weren’t at the races today, Messi and Tevez couldn’t find the space to create anything, and this is were Maradona lacks the tactical knowledge to change the system or adapt to what’s happening and in the end this cost his country a chance at World Cup glory.

Schweinsteiger and Khedira were superb for the whole game, The Bayern man never looked in any trouble on the ball, always finding a pass or when in trouble he has the ability to beat a man to create more space, and Khedira compliments his game so much, knows when to stay knows when to attack, and I’m sticking by my thought that Ballack would just have slowed this team down, Podolski and Muller then back up Klose, with Ozil combining the great play for midfield and attack, Ozil had a slighly quieter game but this gave more space to Schweinsteiger and Podolski and they played a great game.

I thought Jerome Boateng did well, supposidly the weakest link in the german team, however he did well against the threat of Messi and Di Maria, I don’t remember the ball getting inbehind the German defence many times, Mertesacker didn’t get turned like everyone thought they would they managed to keep the Argies in front of them and this condensed the space Messi & Co. had to work with.

Di Maria had has most involved game seeing lots of the ball, he needs to work on his final ball if he is to become a great player, he didn’t get much help from Higuian who’s movement was sparce at best, Otamendi at right back had an awful game, booked very early on he never recovered and if you look at all Germany’s goals they all came from the left side, where Nicolas was meant to be defending, the right back spot a real problem are for Maradona’s men, what difference would someone of Javier Zanetti class have made.

Lionel Messi will leave the tournament without scoring a goal, but at times he showed his World Class and could easily have had 3 or 4, Tevez played well overall, Higuain left a lot to be desired, yeah he got a hat-trick against Korea but never showed the real strengths of his game.

It looks like Diego will retire as Argentina’s coach and maybe it’s a good thing, he is a good cheerleader and gives the team passion and pride, but when i comes to knowing the game he lacks the same skill he had as a player, Argentina need a coach that can get the best of out Messi but also find a way to play the others, it’s not a bad bunch of players to be in charge of.

PARAGUAY

0

 

SPAIN

1

      David VILLA (83′)  
         
         
1.Justo VILLAR     1.Iker CASILLAS  
2.Dario VERON     3.Gerard PIQUE – Y  
3.Claudio MOREL – Y     5.Carles PUYOL OUT – 84
7.Oscar CARDOZO     6.Andres INIESTA  
8.Edgar BARRETO OUT – 64   7.David VILLA  
11.Jonathan SANTANA – Y     8.XAVI  
14.Paulo DA SILVA     9.Fernando TORRES OUT – 56
15.Victor CACERES – Y OUT – 84   11.Joan CAPDEVILA  
16.Cristian RIVEROS     14.Xavi ALONSO OUT – 75
18.Nelson VALDEZ OUT – 72   15.Sergio RAMOS  
21.Antolin ALCARAZ – Y     16.Sergio BUSQUETS – Y  
         
Subs     Subs  
19.Lucas BARRIOS IN – 84   4.Carlos MARCHENA IN – 84
13.Enrique VERA IN – 64   10.Cesc FABERGAS IN – 56
9.Roque SANTA CRUZ IN – 72   18.PEDRO IN – 75

MY THOUGHTS

For 45 minutes this match had nothing to write about, Spain’s passing was awful they couldn’t get their “tiki-taka” going, it was Paraguay that played the nicer football some lovely flowing moves, but just couldn’t find a way past the Spanish defence, it looked like their chances would come mostly from set-pieces.

The second half was so much better and there was a 10 minute period of complete drama, Paraguay had a corner and when the ball was swung in, Gerard Pique was blatantly pulling Cardozo’s arm, the referee spotted it and blew his whitle, Penalty to Paraguay, a chance to go ahead against the European Champions, Benfica’s Oscar Cardozo stepped up to take it, but it was a poor penalty and Iker Casillas made a comfortable save, the temperature rose again when Spain went on the attack and Villa was bundles off the ball by Alcaraz and again the referee had no choice to point to the spot, Xabi Alonso picked up the ball, placed it, took his penalty and put it into the top corner, the referee had spotted some encroachment and ordered the retake, always hard for the player to then either go the same way or do you change your mind, Alonso changed his mind, Villar read it though and got his hand to the ball, it looked like he fouled Fabergas on the rebound, and then Ramos fired the rebound towards goal and it was cleared off the line.

Spain pilled on the pressure and with 7 minutes to go it paid off, Iniesta made a great run towards the box, he slipped in Pedro, his shot came off the post and fell to David Villa and Spain’s top scorer had a chance, his shot came off the same post as Pedro’s went back across the goal and hit the opposite post but this time it bounced into the net and Spain had the lead, and except Santa Cruz’s chance in injury time Spain played out the last minutes knowing they had won.

For the first time in this tournament Pique looked nervous, the tug on Cardozo’s arm was unlike the big man, usually so calm under pressure, Paraguay played well as a team but struggled up front, Cardozo and Valdez no goals between them, Valdez worked very very hard chasing down lost causes and caused problems with his movement but they lacked that cutting edge in the final third, new Premier League boys Alcaraz and Riveros played pretty well and have impressed throughout the tournament looking forward to seeing more of them this season.

Torres again had a poor game, not sure how long Del Bosque can continue to pick the Liverpool man, Llorente did so well when he came on against Portugal he is knocking at the door for a starting spot, other options would be  Cesc Fabergas or Jesus Navas and play Villa down the middle, I would try Llorente as Villa has been findng more space from the left and it seems teams are struggling to pick him up from deeper, however it seems Del Bosque will be sticking with Torres hoping that every game makes him sharper, could be a big decision.

 

SEMI FINAL – GERMANY v SPAIN

Germany will be without striker Thomas Muller who is suspended, looks like Trochowski will replace him, I think there is the option of usin Cacau, Marin and Toni Kross instead that would give more attacking impetus, however Trochowski has been more often or not the first sub, so no surprise if he’s picked, apart from that both teams will have minumum changes.

Some really good matchups Lahm will be wary of Villa from the left wing position, probably the best defender Villa has come up against so far, Busquets will be given the job to mark Ozil, it will be interesting how Sergio Ramos defends against Podolski, Poldi’s presence could pin Ramos back, if he ventures forward there will be space to expolit, also a great test for Schweinsteiger and Khedira against the greatest midfield duo in football Xavi and Iniesta the winner of this battle could determin the team that gets to the final.

Spain will have to play a lot better if they are to beat the Germans, I’m sure Jogi Low will have a game plan to test Spain, really looking forward to this one, if I had to pick a winner, i would have to say Germany by a goal.

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