Spain 1, Germany 0
Spain got a headed goal from a corner kick on 73 minutes by fullback Carles Puyol to advance to the World Cup Final against Holland. Germany will play in the third place game for the second successive tournament, this time getting Uruguay.
A TV audience of over a billion suffered through a boring first half that challenged neutral viewers to stay awake. Spain had 70|PERCENT| of the ball in the first 20 minutes, but generated few chances. The Germans won corners when they came forward, but their only real chance came in stoppage time when Mezut Oezil was played in but should have shot with his first touch instead of playing the ball under control. He ended up on the ground, shouting for a penalty, but the challenge was deemed clean.
Fernando Torres, who has been poor, did not start for Spain, replaced by the ineffective Pedro. Fernando Llorente would have been a better choice: with Xavi and Andres Iniesta already in the engine room, Spain needed targets, not creativity. Piotr Trochowski stepped into the German side with Thomas Muller suspended. Trochowski looked fine when on the ball, but the Germans didn’t have nearly enough of it. As the players left for the halftime team talks, this game desperately begged for a goal.
After Spain’s breakthrough the game opened up. How unfortunate that we only got about 20 minutes of action. Germany had to chase the game, and Spain tried to hit on the counter.
Torres came on for David Villa with nine minutes left and should have scored the clincher shortly thereafter—not his fault as Pedro hogged the ball instead of passing it, coming up empty. Torres for Villa was a confusing switch—had the Germans equalized, it would have been disaster. If Spanish manager Vicente del Bosque insists on continuing to run Torres out, Pedro is the one to pull off in that spot, not the World Cup’s most dangerous man.
We didn’t get the Final most neutrals wanted. Spain did its bit, but Brazil played 20 poor minutes against the Dutch and paid the price. The Final should be a tense one to start, as both teams are most comfortable in possession. What that game needs is an early goal from either side.