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Posted by Susie Schaaf on 07/06/2010

For those of you expecting a re-match of the European Championship of 2008, I invite you to think again. I said then, after that final match in Vienna’s Ernst Happel Stadion, on these very pages, that Germany was “the worst second place team I’ve ever seen”. A bit harsh, in hindsight, but true none-the-less. They were a bitter, mostly old, infighting squad who only really gave an inspired match against Portugal, and a nervy one against Turkey, to advance to the final.

Fernando Torres beat us then, scoring the only goal of the match, due to an uncharacteristic mis-read by Philipp Lahm.

Let’s take a gander at the starting line-ups in 2008, and compare them to the probables for the semi-final showdown to come:

Germany 2008: Lehmann; Lahm, Metzelder, Mertesacker, Friedrich; Hitzlespeger, Frings; Podolski, Ballack, Schweinsteiger; Klose.

Germany 2010: Neuer; Boateng, Mertesacker, Friedrich, Lahm; Schweinsteiger, Khedira; Podolski, Oezil, Kroos / Trochowski; Klose.

Thank goodness, bat-stuff-crazy, Jens Lehmann has retired from international competition, as he’d clearly shown his age during 2008, bobbling some balls my momma could catch. Metzelder’s form was fading at this point as well. And Ballack tried to win the tournament, single-handedly, as he yelled at everyone on the pitch. All. The. Time. Not a harmonius group at all, highlighted by Podolski slapping Ballack after the German captain dared to criticize his teammate.

Fast-forwarding to 2010 sees Philipp Lahm with the captain’s armband on. He’s a calmer presence than Herr Ballack, and one who seems to encourage rather than deride his young teammates. The defensive midfield brilliant pairing of Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger completely out-shine their predecessors, Torsten Frings and Thomas Hitzlsperger. Podolski’s form is more adept in this tournament as well, as he’s been causing problems even when he’s not on the ball. Oezil, in the playmaker’s spot, raises hell all over the place. And, although we’ll miss Mueller’s hot streak, he’s got adept people behind him: A solid Piotr Trochowski and a dynamic Toni Kroos. (Any bets as to who Jogi will pick to start?)

Spain 2008: Casillas; Capdevila, Puyol, Marchena, Ramos; Silva, Fabregas, Xavi, Iniesta; Torres.

Spain 2010: Casillas; Capdevila, Puyol, Pique, Ramos; Alonso, Busquets; Silva, Xavi, Iniesta; Villa.

Eh. Looks very similar to me. With the gross exception of David Villa, who has time-and-time again saved this tournament for la Furia Roja, scoring all but one of their goals and assisting the one he didn’t score himself. (And not to get too sidetracked here, but can I express my extreme distaste for Busquets? I lost all respect for him after his diving, roll-around-on-the-ground, peek-a-boo-to-see-if-the-ref-is-looking move to get a man sent off in the semi-final Champions League match against Inter. If you’ve never seen it, Youtube it. Shocking.)

So, while the countries are the same, the make-up of Germany is so much different than the one that was barely beaten by Spain two years ago. And the forms of both teams seem to say that the roles have been reversed somewhat, with Spain more defensive and Germany coming out on the offensive.

I think the German back four will be more sorely tested by David Villa than they were against Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez. But, if we can manage to score early, we can keep Spain on their heels, stealing possession when we can, and counter-attacking like we’ve done so fabulously this entire tournament.

Spain’s threat to score: David Villa.

Germany’s threat to score: Podolski, Schweinsteiger, Oezil, and Klose, the man with a chance to tie or eclipse Ronaldo’s all-time World Cup goals scored record. And, can’t leave out Lahm, who’d I expect to play more forward on fast breaks, making up for the loss of Mueller.

And finally, one thing that I hope is the same: Paul the Psychic Octopus picking this match wrong. In 2008, the only match that Paul picked incorrectly was the final against Spain. This morning he picked Spain to win this semi-final. Let’s hope he’s got it wrong again.

Auf geht’s Deutschland!


Posted by Juan on 07/06/2010

I believe you article is too optimistic my dear friend.

Stating that the only threat to score from Spain comes from David Villa is a complete mistake. Watch out for Iniesta, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Ramos, Xabi, Cesc Fabregas, Llorente; PEdro, jesus Navas, Silva and of course Fernando Torres. I´m really hoping Fernando Torres starts in the bench to come out on the second half and hopefully have a one on one situation against your beloved Lahm. Quite sure Lahm will bring back the memories of his "uncharacteristic mis-read". Germans must hope this time his legs wont fail, because, once again, Spain is not Villa. Give us space enough, and you´ll find out.

Best luck for both teams tomorrow.

Posted by Alper on 07/06/2010

Gotta add that the match against Turkey was awful. Should've lost that one by a mile.

I'm pretty optimistic for tomorrow. If the defense is able to contain Villa than there's nothing to worry about

Posted by Tom on 07/06/2010

Dear Susie,
distasteful sergio busquets!!
any idea who has received yellows for simulation this world cup???
wonder what your thoughts are of oezil?

Posted by Paul on 07/06/2010

As a USA & England supporter, I agree with the assessment. Spain has scored 6 goals in 5 games against inferior opponents. Germany lost the card-fest which left them a man down in the 1-0 loss to Serbia for almost an hour. Paraguay was able to have some chances and nearly tied the game in the quarters. Before the tournament began if you gave the GF/GA stats for two unnamed teams, most would have picked Spain to have Germany's totals. This is not 2008. Not even close. [resisted the pun there] Unless Spain scores in the first 5 minutes, this should be a 2 or 3 goal win for Germany.

Posted by Tariq Bashalim on 07/07/2010

the goal key to win this match(hopefully germany) is that they should score 1st coz i'm sure if they did, the game will end mor than 3 goals for germany,

good luck for germany

Posted by Viva Espana on 07/07/2010

Spain has only scored 5 goals because they always play the same short passing game, where they always dominate possession and shots on goal and the other team knows it's coming yet still no one can stop it (switz was a bad day, just like germany had with serbia).

This game today will probably be 1-0 with hopefully villa scoring the only goal and then you can talk your crap about how Spain scores so few goals.

Viva Espana!!

Posted by Ramez on 07/07/2010

I doubt that Spain played 4-4-1 in the Euro 2008 final. You left out Senna who had a major impact and who was missed in the Confederation cup and now also (Busquet can't do the job well, a Spanish defensive midfielder is like an oxymoron, they never produce solid ones.)

As for who will replace Müller, I'd love to see Kroos, I have heard good things about him but never saw him play.

Posted by Monster on 07/07/2010

I`m a Spain fan but I can feel Germany`s victory, looking at their recent perfomance but I think the Germany`s fans are too confident which always cause negative results in the end. Well I just wish both teams luck and the best performing team could always (at any rate) get a shocking result.

Posted by John (Singapore) Spain Supporter on 07/07/2010

I juz hope that Iniesta & Alonso is in excellence form thus creation remains useful against the Germans,David Villa will score in the 1st half or Torres sudden form erupted and score remaining a nemesis to the Germans.Prediction Spain lead 1-0 in 1st half & win 2-1.Unless my calculation is wrong missing out somewhere,then Germany lead 1-0 or draw 1-1 in 1st half resulting in 2-1 win.Germany goal scoring spree ends wouldn't come back again!!!!!!!Reference:Bet on Spain 2-1 & incase some on Germany 2-1

Posted by Elaine Holland Fan on 07/07/2010

if Germany can lost 0-1 to Serbia,i don't see why they can't lost 1-2 to Spain

Posted by fernando baas alonso on 07/07/2010

Dream on! thats all you can do, this is not euro2008 but these are the same teams that played in the euro 2008 with almost the same players that played the finals in 2008 and FYI ballack is back to play the semi final. you can say all you want here but the game is to be played its not a computer game talk won't make it happen all talk no action won't win germany a lolypop let alone a cup, germany lost the euro2008 to Us that all, all the germans think that villa is the only danger man lol i think you guys don't really know the other players such as xavi, xabi, ramos, silva,alonso,torres, senna(who's in the line up tonight)and what they can do, spain keep the ball on the ground and do what we do best pass like pinball make germany run like hell.GAME OVER

Posted by Juan on 07/07/2010

Too optimistic post, i told you...

The threat of Spain is the whole team...

I really wish you better luck the next time.

This is not 2008. This is 2010 and it was even worse for the germans.

Viva España!!!!

Posted by Juan on 07/07/2010

Too optimistic post, i told you...

The threat of Spain is the whole team...

I really wish you better luck the next time.

This is not 2008. This is 2010 and it was even worse for the germans.

Viva España!!!!

Posted by barca on 07/08/2010

Yeah rite, instead of Germany winning it looks as if paul was rite:P , got any more carp to talk about???

gooooooo spain!!!!!!

Posted by es on 07/08/2010

Paul, the octopus was right. You negative view on spain was wrong.

They played as well as in the Euro against a younger Germany. Their only problem in previous games was that they played against quite defensive teams, and even so, no extratime was required to score.

Next Euro maybe...

Let us see if Paul is still uncooked in 2 years.

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