I would like to build on GrahamÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s brilliant analysis. I have to warn you though that I will have to disagree. In my office pool (how many out there are already planning what to do with their money…?) I had Spain beating Germany in the final. Unfortunately the rules got confused, and I can no longer win the bracket. But, my initial instinct will have to stand.
Turkey, well, although having tried to play attractive football, I think – and hope for the sake of quiet nights without car horns – that their luck has come to an end. Despite their admirable attitude to play full speed until the final whistle, their (possibly unintentional) strategy of scoring last-minute goals doesn’t appear to be sustainable, especially against a team like Germany.
I watched the Russians in the first game against Spain. The Spanish were basically able to stick the ball in between the defenders whenever they wanted, reaching the lethal duo Torres and Villa. Apparently I wasn’t the only one who noticed. Hiddink must have observed, considered, and amended. Since then they haven’t conceded a single goal, while their attacking line with power and speed has proven extremely hard to resist. The Russians could be the new “Greece” if everything goes their way. However, while the Greek team aimed to bore their opponents to defeat, the Russian team breaks them down with powerful and quick attacking football. If not this time, they have a concept for the future.
The Germans have been up there before, many times. They know what it’s like to win a big one, and if they couldn’t win two years ago on home ground, they will do their very best to do it close to home in Austria. My guess is that they will try to kill the match against Turkey long before 90 minutes. Will they succeed? I think so.
I do believe that the game Russia – Spain could be something fantastic. Forget the group stage match. This is something else. Russia have grown. Spain are strengthened after their win over Italy on penalties. Both teams have impressed greatly, but I doubt they have reached full capacity yet. If they both give it all on Thursday, this match could go down in history. I know, a bit optimistic, but let’s hope for the best.
Whoever wins in the second semi-final I think will have the upper hand in the final. While the Germans are big favorites to win against Turkey, the second match is more open. Two attacking teams, but only one can win. Whichever team it will be will have to put on a great performance, and will have the momentum going for the final. Guus Hiddink has the experience as a coach, but the Spanish players are used to playing the big games. My prediction – Spain will come out on top. Once they have beaten their tournament curse and gone where no Spanish national team (ok, a few have, but it was back when the goalkeeper could still pick up a pass from the defender and the players played in Speedos) have gone before Ã¢â‚¬â€œ the big final.
Germany will be a tough task, but I must be optimistic. I must believe in a game where scoring more goals than the opponent is still the winning concept. Villa and Torres are working harder, running faster, are more elegant, looking hungrier than Klose and Podolski. I think and hope that this will be the deciding factor. I think that finally itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s SpainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turn.
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