Spain-Germany feels more like World Cup final

July 7, 2010


— The reigning European champion vs. the runner-up. The leading scorer at this World Cup vs. No. 2 on the all-time list. The most dynamic team at this tournament vs. a squad that’s yet to show its full brilliance. A three-time champion vs. a team craving its first title.

Sounds like a great World Cup final.

Too bad it’ll be the semifinals when Germany and Spain face off at 1:30 p.m. today at Moses Mabhida Stadium, with many expecting the winner to go on to be crowned world champion four days later.

“Two of the best teams in the World Cup have to play in the semifinal,” Spain striker Fernando Torres said, “so unlucky for one of them.”

There’s a game in every World Cup that comes a round or two too soon, and Germany-Spain definitely qualifies.

Spain has lost all of two games since November 2006, and it ended a 44-year major title drought when it beat Germany to win the European Championship in 2008. David Villa leads World Cup scoring with five goals, and the Spanish defense hasn’t allowed a goal in the knockout stage.

Germany, meanwhile, made old rivals England and Argentina look downright silly, routing them by a combined score of 8-1 to reach the semifinals for a third straight World Cup.

Offensive weapon Miroslav Klose has regained his old form and, with two goals against Argentina, moved into a tie with Gerd Mueller for second place on the all-time scoring list.