I kid because I love, Spain.
Seriously, I love Spain. I love watching them. It’s nice to see a couple of good, solid, attacking teams in the final of a major soccer tournament. Hard to lose either way, but my sympathy lies with the Spaniards. Ridiculously deep everywhere but the back four on defense and armed with one of the top keepers in captain Iker Casillas, they dispatched Russia easily in yesterday’s semi despite losing striker David Villa to injury for the rest of the tournament on a free kick.
This is because coach Luis Aragones can go to a 4-5-1 with Cesc Fabregas, and it works. So much of the debate for the Spanish was where to start Fabregas at, who would he replace? Andres Iniesta and Xavi were the prime candidates until they hooked up for the first goal past Russia’s Igor Akinfeev. David Silva has had flashes of great play (none better than the goal he took on a pass from Cesc that made it 3-0, Fabregas’ other assist was to Dani Guiza.) Marcos Senna has to be there for a defensive mid presence — he locked down on Andrei Arshavin big time.
The debate is moot with Villa out — Cesc will start, and Fernando Torres will be the sole striker up front. So how does this leave them against the Germans? The problem is that Germany is ridiculously well set up with a height advantage and the talent of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslave Klose, and Michael Ballack for power. It looks like they can take advantage of the height differential, like they did in the quarters with the Portuguese. However, Casillas is a damn sight better in goal than Ricardo, and if Spain can take control of a few set players on the offensive end, Jens Lehmann can be a liability if the defenders get beat.
Germany had to orchestrate a comeback on a debilitated Turkish squad and barely pulled out a victory in regulation. I’m going with a high scoring pick: Madrid will welcome home its warriors in Red with a 4-2 victory on Sunday.
Photo: AP/Jon Super