We’re just 90 minutes away from kickoff in the 2nd semifinal, to decide who will play the Netherlands in the final game on Sunday. This matchup between European powers is highly anticipated; more so than yesterday’s Holland-Uruguay match was, but we can only hope that this one lives up to the expectations and turns out to be as exciting as yesterday’s 3-2 victory for Holland.
What better way to get a preview of today’s match than to revisit the finals of the Euro 2008 tournament, played on June 29, 2008 in Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadion, when Germany and Spain clashed with nearly as much as stake as today. Spain prevailed that day 1-0, off a goal by striker Fernando Torres–whose struggles to score in this World Cup have become something of a story line for followers of the Spanish side.
On the other hand, the striker who has been scoring for Spain in this tournament, David Villa, did not even play in that Euro final, due to injury. And on the other side, Germany’s revelation in the midfield, the young and dynamic Mesut Ozil, was not on the German squad.
The pre-tournament favourites versus the most impressive team in the competition so far. A repeat of the 2008 European Championships final it may be, but this is completely different contest.
For a start, David Villa and Mesut Ozil – the two star men – were not involved two years ago. Of the Germans, only Miroslav Klose, Per Mertesacker and Lukas Podolski remain in the same positions from that final, whilst Spain will start with a different formation to in 2008, even the side contains a number of the same players.
Click thru to read ZonalMarking’s full preview for more details on who Spain and Germany might play, individual matchups to watch, etc. We’ll just add some notes that came up via an IM conversation with Coach Larry this morning:
The two teams have similar lineups: same formations, similar attacking outside backs (Sergio Ramos & Philip Lahm, respectively), same holding midfielders (writes Zonal Marking: “There is no other match-up in this tournament that would feature such composed, intelligent footballers in the midfield. In terms of ball retention, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Xabi Alonso are near-unbeatable, but Germany’s midfield trio [Ozil, Schweinsteiger, Khedira] have been even more impressive in this tournament.”
The CultFootball brain trust is meeting to watch this game together at WoodworkBK in beautifully hot and sweltering Brooklyn. If we can set up the laptop and get on their wifi, we’ll liveblog from there. If not, we’ll rely on you to light up the comments thread!