Spain Tops Germany 1-0 to Join Holland In Historic World Cup Finale

Spain came into the World Cup as one of the tournament favorites and, despite reaching the semifinals for the first time in the country's history, seemed to have all the pressure on them heading into the match against a young, upstart Germany squad. For 72 minutes, the field looked tilted in Spain's favor, as they completely dominated possession to that point, but a few missed chances had the game locked in a scoreless draw at halftime. Let's be honest, it seemed like both teams were going through the motions in the first half, happy to be playing a 45-minute match to get into the World Cup finale, as it wasn't until the last minute of the first stanza that either team really tried to put the pressure on. ↵

↵To start the second half, Spain continued to dominate control of the ball so much so that it seemed like the match was prime for a counter attack from the Germans who would steal a game they, frankly, didn't deserve to win. ↵

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↵The final match stats indicate that Spain had a 51-49 edge in possession, but in watching the match, there is no way the possession was that even. Germany did, in fact, control much of the possession late in trying feverishly to tie it up, but the Spanish side converted on 81 percent of its passes – to Germany's 75 percent – and connected on more passes (590) than Germany attempted (589) the entire game. ↵

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↵Still, despite the dominating performance by Spain, the game remained tied until a corner kick from Xavi found a streaking Carles Puyol – curly hair flopping in the breeze like Superfly Jimmy Snuka coming off the top rope – who snapped a rocket header into the back of the net in the 73rd minute. ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵The game certainly opened up from there, as Spain had several additional chances but couldn't put another ball in the net, leading to some tenuous moments late in the match as Germany tried to equalize. Germany suddenly had to go from patiently waiting to counterattack to out-and-out attack and they just weren't able to put enough chances together. Germany did have five shots, including two on target, while Spain racked up 13 shots on goal, five of which were on the mark. ↵

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↵Xavi, who was fantastic, was named Man of the Match. A case could be made for Andres Iniesta, who was dynamic on the left side in keeping possession and creating chances in the second half. Then, of course, the flying Puyol who not only scored but remained a constant on the back line during the German onslaught late in the match. ↵

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↵Now, Spain faces a Dutch side that beat Brazil in the quarterfinals before disposing of Uruguay on the way to its third World Cup final. People have been mentioning that the Netherlands haven't looked good in either of their last two wins and have, perhaps, been lucky. What games have they been watching? Of course it's going to be a struggle to win games at this level. Does anyone look good against Brazil? ↵

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↵Unlike the Netherlands, Spain doesn't exactly win ugly. Like Spain, the Netherlands has never won the World Cup trophy, pitting the two best nations never to win it all – for the Netherlands, the best all-time and for Spain, certainly the best of the last few years – against one another on Sunday. It will, indeed, be historic. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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