Wednesday, July 07, 2010

World Cup 2010 Game 62: Spain 1, Germany 0

The game was a little boring, actually. Disappointingly so, unless you had a rooting interest. Not that Spain, or its fans, will apologize. This was one of those games where the teams played less to win than to not lose. Each had enough respect for the other that they did not want to give away a key mistake to put themselves in the hole.

That was a game recipe that, I think, played into Spain's hands, as they have been playing that style all World Cup, while Germany had been playing more wide open, up and down. In some ways, I was a bit surprised. I thought Germany would have--and play with--more confidence, and be able to play at Spain, using its offense not just to counter punch but to control the time of possession and thus put less stress on its defense. Instead Germany looked a little too tentative.

I think I may have underestimated Spain's defense. Granted, like Brazil, Spain's defense always looks better because the offense holds the ball so the defense is fresher and has less opportunities to defend. Still, Spain has played the two teams (Germany and Portugal) in the last three games that have scored the most goals in the world cup and both teams were held scoreless. In between those two was a grind it out game against a Paraguay team that was the soccer equivalent of the Baltimore Ravens or '85 Chicago Bears. As such, Spain has won different kinds of games, and it got its bad break out of the way against Switzerland.

I also think I undervalued Spain because of its loss a year ago to the United States in the Confederations Cup. I now suspect in that game the United States played loose because like the underdogs they were, they had nothing to lose, and like the team from another conference in the NCAA they didn't necessarily know to be cowed. In some cases, teams like that are dangerous because they are used to the other team being better and to playing games where they know they have to maximize potential, whereas more prestigious teams are not used to experiencing that and have trouble adjusting when they play an elite team.

It should be a great final.

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