Venue – Durban
Date – Wednesday July 7th
Kick-Off – 19:30
Spain and Germany will renew their rivalry on Wednesday evening in what promises to be a thrilling encounter. The Germans, still reeling about their 1-0 reverse against the Spaniards in Vienna two years ago, as Spain were crowned European Champions, will be determined to inflict revenge this time around.
Both sides have come unstuck en route to the semi-final, with Switzerland shocking Spain in their opening group match and Serbia defeating a 10-man German side in their Group D clash. Since these setbacks, Spain have improved progressively, but it is Germany who have impressed most, in their thrashing of two of the strong contenders for World Cup glory, England and Argentina.
Germany have made it common practice to be involved deep into tournament football, with this their 11th semi-final appearance at a World Cup, a quite staggering record. They are unbeaten against Spain in their last three World Cup meetings and hold the advantage in the overall head-to-head records, with eight wins to the Spanish’ six, along with six draws.
Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque must make a key decision on whether to retain under-par striker Fernando Torres in his starting line-up, after again disappointing against Paraguay. A potential replacement for Torres is Cesc Fabregas; however he has been made a doubt for the semi-final clash after injuring his leg in training yesterday. He was already struggling with a shoulder injury sustained during the quarter-final victory over Paraguay, but was hopeful of playing with the aid of pain-killing injections. Defender Carlos Puyol has been given the all clear after suffering blurred vision towards the end of the Paraguay match and Raul Albiol has returned to training following an injury he picked up earlier on in the tournament.
Germany coach Joachim Loew may have a near full-strength squad to select from, with the only certain exception the suspended Thomas Muller. Sami Khedira and Arne Freidrich are both carrying minor knocks sustained during the 4-0 romp over Argentina, but despite both missing training yesterday are hopeful of recovering from foot and hamstring problems respectively. Back-up striker Cacau is expected to be available again after missing the last two games with an abdominal muscle injury.
The German team certainly come into the game as the form team, with two thumping knock-out wins under their belts. The tournament’s top scorers with 13 goals have played a stylish, counter-attacking brand of football not so typical of a German national side. A youthful side, which appears fearless, has startled onlookers, with most not giving them much hope heading into the finals. Midfielder Bastain Schweinsteiger has been a standout performer with a string of superb performances in the tournament up to now, filling the hole left by captain Michael Ballack with great aplomb.
Spain, on the other hand have struggled to initiate their usual fluent attacking football as of yet, progressing with narrow victories over Portugal and Paraguay. A more assured and efficient performance will be required against the impressive Germans, as they will offer far more on the counter-attack than either of their previous opponents. If Spain are to wipe away their perennial underachievers tag in world football, then now is the time for them to produce their best, as one thing you can be certain of, is that Germany won’t be lying down without a fight.