Spain’s entire 23-man squad, on paper, is the strongest in the tournament. They have players that possess unbelievable technical skills, and include many of the greatest passers in the game today. When a team can afford not to start Cesc Fabregas and David Silva, then you know they’ve got some serious quality.
Spain will bring a similar threat to Germany that Argentina did. They will play a possession passing game and try to contain Germany into their own half. They will keep the ball until an opportunity arises, and then quickly split the defense and grab a goal. Spain’s problem is, they haven’t been able to show how good they really can be yet this tournament. Their performance against Portugal, where they won 1-0, was arguably their best game.
At the back, Spain is very solid. In goal is Real Madrid’s Iker Casillas, who has been dubbed ‘San Iker’ by Madridistas for his heroic displays between the sticks. Across the backline, we will see Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, Barcelona’s Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique, and Villareal’s Joan Capdevila. Ramos loves to burst forward at every opportunity. He is similar to Brazil’s Maicon in the way he plays. Because of this, he leaves a lot of space in behind him that Germany will be able to exploit. Carles Puyol will be dragged out wide to cover Ramos when he charges up field, and that means one less man in the middle to mark Miroslav Klose. At center-half Spain are quite brilliant.
- Gerard Pique Is Key In Defense For Spain.
Pique and Puyol rarely let an opposition player pass them, but with the trickery of Mesut Ozil and the speed of Lukas Podolski, Germany certainly do have a chance against the Barcelona pair. At left-back, with Joan Capdevila, is where Spain are weakest. The veteran full-back can be taken for pace and will have to deal with all he can handle against Germany. Capdevila gets forward a lot less than Sergio Ramos does, but that’s because Capdevila can’t track back quickly enough to cover the space he leaves behind him. Capdevila is definitely the chink in Spain’s armor in defense.
In the midfield is where we really see how strong Spain are. Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, and Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso is who will likely start in the middle for Spain. The passing range of these players is just staggering to see at times. Xavi Hernandez will be the main threat in that midfield, though. He has the ability to unlock a defense in an instant. Iniesta will look to make lots of forward runs and make sharp, quick passes into the feet of Spain’s strikers. Busquets and Xabi Alonso are essentially holding players, and the former more than the latter. Busquets, despite his young age, is very disciplined in that central midfield area. He will break up opposition attacks and look to quickly pass the ball on to the more creative Xavi, Iniesta or Xabi Alonso. He is the steel in Spain’s midfield, and will be keeping a very close watch on Mesut Ozil. Xabi Alonso is Spain’s quarter-back. He will sit quite deep in midfield, with Busquets, but he will look to spray longer passes out to Spain’s more attacking players. He is also known for his ability to score from within his own half. There almost isn’t a player in Spain’s entire first XI who isn’t dangerous. This game may be harder than the final, should Germany get to it.
Up front, Spain have two of the greatest strikers in the world. David Villa and Fernando Torres. Villa has just completed a mega-money move to Barcelona, and looks to be well worth the money now. He has been in fantastic form for Spain this summer, and has even become Spain’s top goalscorer of all time. Torres, who is usually absolutely clinical, has been extremely out of form. He had a serious injury that kept him out of his club season for quite some time, and has not really recovered since then. Despite this, he will partner Villa up front.
Germany can be confident that their game plan, the counter-attacking football that has brought them this far in the tournament, will work against Spain just like it worked against Argentina. Spain will press Germany and push the play into Germany’s half, but when Schweinsteiger or Khedira win possession, Germany will break and play that wonderful counter-attack that has allowed them to score so many goals. If Germany take an early lead, I believe there is no chance that they will lose against Spain. Spain will press and press and Germany will just continue to counter-attack. Spain have not been playing the football that brought them European glory in 2008. They have been off-form and have relied on pieces of magic from players like David Villa and Andres Iniesta. If Germany can stifle their dangermen and counter-attack like they have been, then they will march into the final with confidence.