Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Germany Braces For Spain By Humbling Maradona's Men

What can I say? I had thought that Argentina would be a real test for the young Germans. Argentina who had the most potent attack in the World Cup this year and also had only let in two goals all tournament, were as the English before them, outclassed by the young Germans!

Bastian Schweinsteiger was simply superb at the centre of the pitch, directing play, spraying the ball left, right or down the middle as he deemed suitable. Thomas Mueller, who will miss the semi final, once again played in a manner that belied his 20-year old age. His runs, passes and movement were a joy to watch. Schweinsteiger showed his new-found leadership when he consoled Mueller when he was clearly upset over his yellow card. Schweini's second World Cup campaign at 25 makes him an elder statesman compared to Oezil, Khedira and Mueller.

Germany's fourth goal against Argentina typifies the new Die Mannschaft footballing philosophy. An attack broken up by the German defence, a quick ball forwards to Podolski. Seeing the run of Oezil, Podolski laid it on to him who supplied a pinpoint cross for Klose to volley home. Shades of Manchester United at their counterattacking best, no wonder Jogi Loew attributes his team's success to a mixture of English energy, Spanish flair and Italian catenaccio.

Argentina were made to look slow, weak and lazy by Joachim Loew's team. Everytime an Albiceleste player had the ball, all space were closed down. There was simply no one to pass to, and eventually the ball goes back to Germany. Messi exits this tournament without a goal to his name but he can hold his head up high and claim that he had a great competition.

Klose is reaching legendary status day by day. His 14th goal now leaves him only two to surpass Ronaldo's World Cup record. With two games left, Klose could be the best ever World Cup goalscorer. He missed a gilt-edged chance on the 23rd minute when he skied a shot once put through by Thomas Mueller.

Die Mannschaft were simply too fast, too clever and too hardworking for the Argentines. Could they be champions this time? Well, they'd have to face a resurgent Spain who has yet to reach the high standards that the La Furia Roja set themselves over the last two years. Unless Nando Torres decides to explode on the scene, it's almost a guarantee the Germans will be too quick for the Spain backline and that will be the crucial decider.

Thommi Mueller will definitely be missed against Spain. Cacau, Trochowski and Mario Gomez are touted to be his replacement for the semifinal. Mueller has scored four goals and bagged three assists in this tournament, and he did so by displaying amazing speed of thought, intelligent passing and pace. None of Cacau, Trochowski or Gomez possess the dynamic skills of Mueller. In order to continue playing the fast counter attacking game, Marko Marin would be a better replacement for Mueller.

Germany's quick transition from defence to attack (with more than five players breaking forward) will put the slow Spanish defence on the back foot for sure. With only David Villa the only La Furia Roja's hope of scoring, Phillip Lahm will put the shackles on him. Schweini and Khedira will relish the midfield duel against the best midfield duo in world soccer.

Loew said that against Argentina, the tactical game plan was,
"We closed down Messi very well - without resorting to fouls."
The same game plan could well work against the Spaniards, Xavi and Iniesta, barring the incredulous thought that maybe just maybe the Germans have peaked with that incredible 4-0 win over Maradona's Albiceleste army.

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