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FIFA World Cup: Germany v Spain - Semi-Final Preview

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Dave Griffith
Dave Griffith

World No.6 ranked Germany - the hottest form team in the tournament - take on No.2 ranked Spain to decide who will face the Netherlands in the World Cup Final.

Spain were many peoples pre-tournament favourites but have failed to inspire as they have done enough and no more to get them where they are. Six goals in 5 games is not the cutting edge strike power that we would expect from a World Cup finalist and the reigning European champions. They have only let in 2 goals at the other end of the park so the defence has been sound. The Germans on the other hand have netted 13 goals in their 5 games while only conceding 2. 

This rematch of the UEFA EURO 2008 final sees 19 players returning from that night in Vienna when Fernando Torres fired Spain to a historic 1-0 victory. Torres at the moment though is struggling to make any kind of mark worthy of his pedigree at this tournament and Germany are playing a faster direct style that is several notches above what they mustered two years ago when they were outclassed by Spain.

Both teams suffered a loss to lesser ranked sides in pool play but Germany especially has stormed through the knockout stages. England and Argentina were unable to find an answer to the pace of the Germans. Spain will try and play their elegant passing game but even when they were at their peak at EURO 2008 they were still shaded by Germany in the possession stats. The Germans had no cutting edge in that game and managed only 4 shots on goal to Spain's 13. So far in this tournament the Germans have mustered 33 shots on goal to Spain's 35.

Spain is certainly more accurate with their possession. They have an 80% pass completion rate for this tournament to Germanys 73%. Spain has also strung together 27% more passes than the Germans.

Much has been made of the clash between the two strikers Miroslav Klose and David Villa. Villa is on the rise. More involved in the midfield battle than Klose, he is a creator and poacher who on average runs 2 kilometres further per game than Klose. Klose is more of a finisher who times his runs superbly and positions himself well to get on the end of a cross or through pass. Both are outstanding in their own way. Villa leads the golden boot standings with 5 goals and Klose is on 4 but has played one less game.  

Klose only needs one more goal to equal Brazils Ronaldo as the all-time highest goal scorer in World Cup Finals History with 15 goals. The 32 year old striker will be looking to cap off what is his likely last finals tournament by becoming the first player in FIFA World Cup history to win the golden boot twice (he topped the 2006 tournament in Germany).  

There is no question that the Spanish defence will be up to the task but so will the Germans. The Germans rolled England and Argentina because they were quicker on attack. Neither of them able to switch from attack to defence quick enough to prevent conceding goals. It is hard to see Spain whose style is more in keeping with Argentina's being any different in this department.

For all Germany's perceived advantages Spain are still a strong chance. Their biggest threat will come from set pieces and scrambling messes in the penalty area. This is Villa's natural habitat. Perhaps Torres will find some form at last?

The head to head record between these two sides suggests a close game is in store. In the 20 matches they have play against each other; Germany has won 8 to Spain's 6 with 6 draws. Germany has scored 27 goals to Spain's 22. If we look at World Cup matches Germany has won 2 to Spain's nil with 1 draw. Goals are 5-3 in Germany's favour.


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