Thursday, July 8, 2010

SF2 : Efficient Spain shut out Germany 1-0

Spain did what they usually do. Pass the opposition to death. Germany tried to do what they did against Argentina and England. Counter-attack. Unfortunately, they faced one minor problem in this game. To be able to launch a counter-attack, you need to get the ball first. Also they got an early goal in both the previous games, which drew the opposition out and made it easier for them.

One of my hunches before the match was whichever team scores the first goal would win. Although this match ended up having only one goal, things turned out as expected. Spain passed and passed and passed, when they finally scored late in the 73rd minute, they shut out Germany after that with some more passing. Had Germany scored first, things would have been more interesting. That would have drawn Spain out allowing the much-famed German counter-attack.

For the purists, this one was a lesson in football. Spain showed tonight why they are the rated as the most technically fluent team in the world. Tonight, one major quality which Spain possesses was on display, something which isn't so obvious and usually gets hidden behind the brilliance of Villa or the passing by the trio of Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso.

'Off the ball running and closing down the opposition!' This is something the entire Spanish team does so efficiently and so brilliantly that often it doesn't allow the attack-minded opposition players to even come into the game. The same reason caused Ronaldo to cut a forlorn figure in the pre-quarters, and tonight again, Klose and Podolski were barely allowed a touch of the ball.

For all the beauty, the technical ability that Spain have, they work together as a unit and close down the opposition players superbly. Force the opposition player into making a mistake, give the ball away, and then the whole probing cycle of Alonso, Xavi, Aniesta, Xavi, Alonso, wide to Ramos/Villa starts all over again.

Man of the match : Carlos Puyol. While he had a very poor game against Paraguay where he was caught out by Nelson Valdez's pace, tonight he displayed great mental strength to come back with a strong showing and showed the positive trait of his defending - dealing with high balls with strong dominating headers. To cap it all, he got a goal with another of those powerful headers. A rare direct goal by Spain.

For Netherlands, they can only win against Spain if they accomplish one task. Outrun Spain. Paraguay tried it to good effect in their first half, but couldn't sustain it. Close down, don't allow the fab two, Xavi and Iniesta, time on the ball. Yes, Spain will still have majority of the possession, but if allowed to pass, they will just pass Netherlands to death. Just as they so neatly and efficiently, wrote the obituary of an upto-so-far rampant German team tonight.

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