Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Best Team In the World?

Rather fittingly, the two sides that qualified for this World Cup with 100% records now face off for the title itself. While the Dutch have only suffered one defeat since the start of Euro 2008 (the quarter final loss to Russia), the European Champions Spain have suffered two, both in South Africa.

While they lost to the USA in last years Confederations Cup, the loss to Switzerland in Spain’s opening match of this tournament has revealed a vulnerable side to this much lauded side. Spain at times give off the air of a side more content to keep the ball rather than a side keen to force the decisive move, which is strange considering they have two of the deadliest fowards in the game playing for them. Indeed David Villa is the tournament’s leading scorer with 5 goals, and will be looking to add to that total in the Final.

Spain have taken their time in getting going. After the loss to Switzerland, they registered wins against Honduras & Chile to ensure that they avoided Brazil in the knock out phase. They did have to face Portugal and got through thanks to a 1-0 win against a side that might have won had they a decent forward in their side. In the quarter final’s Spain faced a Paraguay side that finished ahead of the defending Champions Italy in their group, and again struggled to a 1-0 win.

It’s only when the big games came along that Spain showed signs, showing some form to see off Portugal. Spain though hit form when they faced Germany in the semi final. They had to as Germany had been destroying sides en-route to the semi scoring four past Australia, England & Argentina. Spain kept hold of the ball and gradually wore Germany down. Germany though had their chances just before half time, and could have had a penalty. In the second half though Spain stepped up to 3rd gear, and the chances came. In the 5 minutes before the goal, Spain had about 4 or 5 chances to score, and eventually scored from the corner conceded after one of those chances. Puyol’s header from the corner was unstoppable. Germany then came to the party and managed to get themselves forward, creating space for Spain to counter attack.

Spain will be the number one ranked side in the world come Monday, they are favourites to emulate the West German side of 1974 in being European Champions who lifted the World Cup (The France side of 2000/02 were also European Champions & World Cup winners but won the European Championships as World Cup winners) . They know what to do to win, however i think that Spain at times are not direct enough. I think that Spain will win, but I'm not 100% certain that they will win, I certainly don’t think that its as inconceivable that The Netherlands can win as most observers are making out, if they score early i can see Spain having problems. Much depends on who score’s first, but i take Spain to win after extra time & confirm their place as football's dominant team.

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