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Germany v Spain - Key battles
Published : 07 Jul 2010 11:24:42
Free-scoring Germany face pre-tournament favourites Spain in the second World Cup semi-final this evening. Football.co.uk profiles three of tonight's key battles which could decide who goes on to face the Netherlands in Sunday's final.
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Miroslav Klose v Carles Puyol
The German striker has been in imperious form in South Africa so far, notching four goals in four games to take his all-time World Cup tally to 14, just one behind Brazilian legend Ronaldo. After being sent-off against Serbia in the second group game, the Bayern Munich man returned with a goal against England and two more against Argentina in the quarter-finals. His aerial prowess and ability to step up on the big occasion will be key to Germany's chances.
Tonight he will come up against the vastly experienced Carles Puyol. The Barcelona skipper has been at the heart of a Spain defence which has conceded only two goals in their five World Cup games so far. Puyol will need to use all of his ability and knowledge to deal with a man determined to become the competition's all-time top-scorer.
Winner: Miroslav Klose
Bastien Schweinsteiger v Xavi Hernandez
Arguably the stand-out player of all the quarter-finals, Schweinsteiger looks set for his toughest challenge of the tournament when he takes on Spain's talented midfield this evening. The Bayern Munich man has been effective at both ends of the pitch so far, with his impressive work-rate allowing him to contribute both defensively and going forward. With more than one assist to his name already, Schweinsteiger will be crucial if the Germans are to open up a stubborn Spanish defence.
His direct opponent this evening will be Barcelona talisman Xavi. Named player of the tournament at Euro 2008, Xavi is continuing his fine club form in South Africa with a string of excellent performances. His ability to read the game and keep possession will be important is Spain are to avoid the German's devastating counter-attacks.
Winner: Too close to call
Per Mertesacker v David Villa
Possibly the most intriguing one-on-one battle this evening will see German giant Per Mertesacker face joint top-scorer David Villa. The 6ft 5in central defender has faced the likes of Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Carlos Tevez so far, with all three failing to find the back of the net. The Werder Bremen man will need to transfer his dominance in the air to the ground if he is to successfully deal with in-form Villa.
The Spanish striker is continuing to enhance his growing reputation having bagged five goals so far. With strike partner Fernando Torres still misfiring, the new Barcelona signing has a huge responsibility on his shoulders when he takes to the field in Durban this evening.
Winner: David Villa