Royal March: Spain Gets Past Germany 1-0, Will Face Dutch in Final
One thing is for certain: History will be made in Johannesburg on Sunday when FIFA will crown a first-time world champion. Spain did it's best to ensure that.
After Spain's 1-0 victory over Germany in Durban yesterday, "La Rojas" will face "Clockwork Orange" in a match that will resound from Barcelona to The Hague. Spain clinched its ticket with the go-ahead score in the 73rd minute on a header by defender Carles Puyol placed from a beautiful service via a corner by midfielder Xavi. The Spanish defense held firm against Germany, who scored more goals in this tournament than any team. This included three games with four goals and blowout wins against soccer powers England and Argentina in elimination play. Without a key component in those victories in Thomas Mueller, who was sitting after receiving a second yellow card against Argentina, the German offensive attack seemed a bit off. The counterattack, which figured so prominently for Germany in the last two matches, was absent. While Spain's defense contributed to the death of Germany's offense, they seemed tense and tentative in their offensive sets. Goal scorers Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski couldn't find the magic they displayed so willfully through the quarterfinals.
As they did two years ago in Germany in the Euro 2008 final by winning by the same score, the Spaniards simply played better. Striker David Villa had a couple of good chances, as did Andres Iniesta. In the 57th and 58th minutes, midfielder Pedro had two good chances back-to-back, the first which was saved by German keeper Manuel Neuer and the latter which was wide of the goal. Spain attacked effectively with fluid ball movement and precise passing. The story of this match was in the Spanish midfield and backline, which gave their fair share of chances throughout the tournament against the opposition, but held firm. Spain is now seeking to be the first team to win the Cup after conceding an opening match. This seems like a much different, more confident Spain squad than the one that dropped a 1-0 decision to Switzerland almost a month ago.
Now, the pre-tournament favorites head into their first World Cup final in history at Soccer City to face the Netherlands, who are riding a 25-match unbeaten streak. The Dutch have played exceptional in this tournament and have proven to be versatile; displaying precision against Uruguay and toughness and grit against Brazil. Red and Orange will be the colors of choice on Sunday, where a nation will hoist the Cup for the first time to close out the world's biggest sport's tournament.
Things to watch: Villa and Wesley Sneijder are tied with the tournament lead with five goals apiece. The winner of this match may also have the winner of the Golden Boot Award, given to the tournament's leading scorer.
By: Brian Cox