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Spanish Armada sinks young German fleet, sails into the...


Africa, Sport

Spanish Armada sinks young German fleet, sails into the World Cup final

It was as one-sided a game as a game against Germany could possibly be. Spain dominated every blade of grass of the Moses Mabhida Stadium pitch on Wednesday night, and yet, their victory was by the smallest of margins. The match ended Spain 1, Germany 0, with Spain earning the right to play The Netherlands in the World Cup final.

Looking back, Spain’s victory was inevitable: player by player they are the best team in the world; they kept displaying that spine of steel even when they were almost down and out; and, crucially, their form was on its way up all the time. On top of it, theirs is by far the most fairly played soccer in the world: they have, unbelievably, received only three yellow cards in the six matches of the World Cup. And, most important of all, Paul the Psychic Octopus didn’t hesitate much when pointing to a Spanish win.

Photo: Two year-old octopus Paul, the so-called “octopus oracle” predicts Spain’s victory in their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany by choosing a mussel, from a glass box decorated with the Spanish national flag instead of a glass box with the German flag, at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 6, 2010. Paul has correctly picked the winner of Germany’s five World Cup results so far. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay

As has happened many times in history, the German team lost all the flair and power with which they hammered the English and the Argentines in previous matches. And yet, the game the Spaniards played against Germany was always going to be tough. They were helped by the fact that the Germans had a genuinely bad day, a problem that was exacerbated by their brilliant young forward and the best scorer Thomas Mueller’s suspension because of two yellow cards. Weakened as they were on Wednesday, Germany were still formidable opponents: they may have not created many chances and they did spend most of the game in their own half, still Spain managed to get only one past Neuer.

But let’s not forget the Spanish and their magnificent team. They play the intelligent, beautiful soccer that we’ve learned to love so much over the last four years. At this World Cup, theirs was the commitment to intelligent passing, positive football, to be always on the attack, always searching for the moves that will have audiences around the world awed and wanting more. The Spanish defence is effective while not brutal, and their midfield simply puts Brazil’s to shame.

Here are the reporter’s notes:

Starting line-ups

Germany: Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Arne Friedrich, Per Mertesacker, Jerome Boateng, Piotr Trochowski, Sami Khedira, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Mesut Oezil, Miroslav Klose

Spain: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Gerard Pique, Carles Puyol, Joan Capdevila, Xabi Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets; Pedro, David Villa

First half

  • 4th minte: Security personnel stop the game in order to catch an intruder. The Fifa court will be busy.
  • 6th minute: Pedro’s pass was pinpointed for Villa, but Neuer was a fraction of the second faster. A promising start for the Spaniards.
  • 14th minute: Iniesta’s incredibly precise cross ends at Puyol’s forehead, but his header fliesacross the crossbar, although not far.
  • 16th minute: The first offensive by the Germans goes without any chances created, but the pressure on the Spanish goal is visible.
  • 19th minute: Sergio Ramos’s shot flies wide, but he still has a free shot. Worrying for the Germans.
  • 28th minute: Podolski is in a big distress after Sergio Ramos buried his studs into his foot.

Photo: Germany’s Miroslav Klose (L) and Spain’s Xabi Alonso jump for the ball during the 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban July 7, 2010. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

  • 30th minute: Xavi Alonso’s long-range shot doesn’t bother Neuer.
  • 32nd minute: Trochowski’s left-footed shot from 30 metres was saved by Casillas’s brave save.
  • 39th minute: Spain dominate the game, with a 57:43 possession ratio.
  • 45th minute: Pedro gets the corner after some nifty footwork, but Boateng is steady.
  • 46th minute: Pedro’s shot goes straight into Neuer.

Second half

The Germans are simply not committing enough players to attack.

  • 48th minute: Xavi Alonso’s left-footed shot, after brilliant dribbling, is wide. A disappointing end to a great move.
  • 52nd minute: Boateng is replaced by Jansen. Difficult to understand why, because his defence delivery was steady.
  • 55th minute: Villa’s shot is wide, but the move that brought him into the chance should have worried the Germans.
  • 58th minute: Spain is playing with the Germans. Within two minutes, Iniesta and Villa created two great chances and the Germans should count themselves truly lucky not to be behind.
  • 61st minute: Miroslav Klose’s shot goes above the crossbar, but there was not much hope.
  • 63rd minute: Sergio Ramos gallops into the penalty box, and is brought down by Podolski, but the Hungarian referee is not going to react.
  • 69th minute: The best German chance of the game goes to Kroos, who shot from the right-hand side of the penalty box, only for it to be brilliantly saved by Casillas.
  • 73rd minute: Puyol scores!!! His jump defied gravity, Iniesta’s corner cross was brilliant and the German defence was strangely inactive. Both Pique and Puyol were up in the stratosphere. Puyol’s shot was impossible to stop.

Photo: Spain’s Carles Puyol (on the ground) heads in a goal past Germany’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban July 7, 2010. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

  • 82nd minute: Pedro wastes a perfect chance from the counter-attack, purely out of selfishness, while Torres was completely alone. Should the Germans score, Pedro will deserve to be sent to exile to Siberia.
  • 89th minute: Torres and Iniesta are playing with the Germans in front of Neuer.
  • 94th minute: Spain wins!!!

Main photo: Spain’s Carles Puyol (C) celebrates his goal with team mates during the 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany at Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban July 7, 2010. REUTERS/Jerry Lampen


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