If you would have asked that question two months ago before the World Cup, most everyone would have said, "Yes, definitely." Spain beat Germany two years ago in the Euro Cup final and their National Team has looked strong ever since then...until now that is. Meanwhile, Germany has emerged as the clear favorite to win it all. The teams have yet to square off and people are already discussing the Netherlands/Germany final. And with good reason. Germany destroyed Argentina in the quarterfinals whereas Spain barely escaped against Paraguay. Can Spain actually pull out the victory? Maybe. Here is how it has to happen:
1. Start Fernando Torres: Admittedly, I'm a huge Torres fan, with or without his long hair. But despite my unabashed mancrush, I do think he's a big key and should start this game for a few reasons:
a. You will know within the first 20 minutes if he is going to impact the game. He has been off his game but has great potential. If he is going to do any damage he will do it early. If he is as poor as he has been, yank him after the first half. Germany knows what he did to them 2 years ago when the one and only goal he scored in the Euro Cup was in the final to beat Germany. Germany isn't afraid of him, but they will respect his ability and will make sure he doesn't burn them again.
b. This opens up room for David Villa. The MVP of the tournament. Spain has no other scoring threats besides Villa. Germany and the entire world know this. Villa has 5 goals off of 14 shots. The rest of Spain has 1 goal off of 21 shots. Astounding. Naturally, Germany's game plan should be to crush Villa like he was Polish (Zing! for the WWII joke). Spain can't score without Villa. If Germany only pays a little attention to Torres it frees Villa up just a little bit. Not a ton, but three defenders marking you is better than four.
c. Torres has size. Germany dominates Spain and pretty much every other team in size. Torres can hold his own against the big defenders. Here is the goal from the Euro Cup to prove that:
2. Spain can't play their "cultural" style. When we did our band comparisons before the World Cup, we compared Spain to Led Zeppelin and Germany to Coldplay. Now that we are down to 3 teams in the tournament we probably should have switched those two teams and bands. Spain has been much more like Coldplay - very predictable and lulling you to sleep with all the passing. Whereas Germany has been the exciting, out of control, but under control team like Zeppelin.
The thing that is also awesome about Germany is that they play exactly how you would expect a German to play football. They are big, fast and efficient. If they have four shots on goal, they will score four goals. They also sort of play a blitzkrieg style. Once they mount that counterattack, there is no stopping them. They all just barrel down the field so quickly and just pick up steam as they go. They get in front of the goal and don't waste any opportunities and just punish defenses.
Spain on the other hand has been taking a siesta for most of the tournament. They were the most dominate team coming into the World Cup, but it's as though they are taking their August vacation a little early this summer. They are just relaxed and passing the ball all over the field and hardly attacking. They try and wear the other team down. They are waiting for the perfect opportunity, but it's not coming. They are all bark and no bite. I want to blame this on Xavi as I think he controls the game and looks to keep possession more than attack. Regardless, if they do this, Germany will punish them. Germany is too good and too fast. They will force Spain to turn the ball over and they will kill Spain on the counterattack. Spain has to break away from the relaxed siesta soccer and attack from the start.
3. Iker Casillas: Let's be honest, Germany is going to have their chances and is going to pound the goal. Casillas will have to be other worldly and come up with at least 3 amazing saves if Spain is going to win. It's a tall order, but it will be amazing soccer if he pulls it off.
4. Everyone has to hit their potential: This is essentially what it boils down to. There was a time (May 2008-May 2010) when Spain played to their potential and they fired on all cylinders and had fantastic team chemistry. I'm not sure what happened, but it has been largely non-existent throughout this Cup. I'm not sure if the team got cocky or if everyone would rather spend their summer in Ibiza instead of South Africa. Something is off and if they are going to win, they have to get it back and everyone has to play to their potential.
Spain is wildly talented. They didn't come into this tournament as the favorites because they won the Euro Cup. That contributed to it, but it's also because their roster is stacked. Even more so than other countries. The talent level is higher than any other team in Europe, including Germany. All teams have great players, but also have some gaps. Spain has no gaps. In four years they probably will have gaps and another country, Germany or Brazil will be the team with no gaps. For whatever reason, this is just Spain's time. Because of that, if you just looked at both teams on paper, Spain would still be the favorite because of their talent level and the potential of all of the players. The potential is definitely there to beat any team in the world. But that's all it has been thus far, potential. Talking about it but never reaching it. They will have to in order to win.
So can Spain beat Germany? Sure. It could happen. Will it happen? Because my heart resides in Spain I want to say that Spain will win. And logically and on paper you can make an argument for Spain. But logically and based upon recent play on the field, you really can't pick against Germany.
Too bad logic is never a fun way to live your life. Bring out the passion! We live and die by our team. Either you are all in to the end, or we didn't want you on the wagon in the first place. I had Spain in my heart and in my head since the beginning, so I'm sticking to it. Here's to risking the pain of the low of lows of defeat all for the slight chance for futbol glory.
Final Score: Spain 3 Germany 2
In Villa We Trust.