Germany vs. Spain 2010: FIFA World Cup Top Players To Watch
Spain's victory over Germany in the Euro 2008 Final was nice, but it will mean nothing to their players or fans if they don't get the same result on Wednesday.
Anyone who has watched these two teams play over the course of the World Cup knows they play completely different styles of football.
Spain like to knock it around and use their superb skill to defeat opponents, while Germany have a frantic counterattack that has given them eight goals in their past two matches.
Which scheme will prove victorious?
It will depend on how these players perform this Wednesday, 1:30 Central Time on ESPN.
Germany: Bastian Schweinsteiger
At only 25 years old Schweinsteiger has already eclipsed the 75-cap mark.
His experience and leadership are crucial in the German midfield. The winger is in the thick of things on counterattacks and has a dazzling free kick that can either score or set teammates up from nearly anywhere.
Although he hasn't scored a goal in the 2010 World Cup yet, the Bayern Munich star has recorded three assists so far.
Spain: Iker Casillas
Can Casillas keep the threatening Germany counterattack at bay?
That is one of the most important questions for Spain, which have reached the semifinals for the first time since 1950.
Casillas, Captain of the Spanish, is the leader and the backbone of La Roja's stern defense, which has only given up two goals in the World Cup so far.
The Madrid-born player has won nearly everything there is to win—La Liga titles, Champions League titles, and Euro 2008—except the crown jewel: the World Cup.
To do so, the Real Madrid mainstay must be on form and go for the clean sheet against Germany.
Germany: Mesut Özil
A virtual unknown outside of Europe before reaching South Africa, Ozil has the potential to win Best Young Player award after his outstanding play thus far.
At only 21 years old Ozil is a rising star in the German ranks and has played a pivotal role in their 2010 World Cup success.
It will be exciting to see whether the young midfielder from Gelsenkirchen can hold his own against Spain's all-star cast that includes Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
Speaking of Xavi..
Perhaps the best midfielder in the world, Xavi has been a midfield maestro for Barcelona and Spain for nearly a decade.
La Roja's mystifying passing game runs through the 30-year-old center-mid, and Xavi makes good use of his involvement.
He can slice defenses with through balls or control the flow of the game by maintaining possession, among other things.
If Xavi and Spain can continue to dominate possession against Germany, there is a good chance they will come out on top.
Germany: Miroslav Klose
Miroslav Klose may not consistently be one of the best strikers in the world, but every four years that all changes.
Klose is the second leading scorer in World Cup history with 14 goals, behind only the legendary Ronaldo.
With one more goal the German could match the Brazilian and potentially propel his country to their second World Cup Finals appearance this decade (the previous one being 2002).
And he could also win his second Golden Boot, which he previously won at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. To do so Klose must out-duel Spain's David Villa, who currently has five goals to Klose's four.
Spain: David Villa
The goals just don't stop coming for David Villa.
Having struck his 44th goal for Spain in their quarterfinal victory over Paraguay, Villa is just one goal shy of tying Raul's all-time scoring mark for the national team.
How sweet would it be if the 45th (and maybe 46th) came against Germany.
Averaging a goal a game so far in this World Cup, the 28-year-old striker will look to keep that ratio Wednesday versus the Germans.
And it might be necessary if Spain are to advance, seeing as only one other player on La Roja—midfielder Andres Iniesta—has managed to score a goal in South Africa.
Prediction: Spain Prevails Again
I'm really torn on this one.
On the one hand, Spain have a incredibly talented side that is finally living up to its potential.
On the other, Germany are a dangerous team that have a deadly counterattack and a formidable defense.
Part of me says Spain. Part of me says Germany.
But I'm leaning towards the Spanish.
Spain 2, Germany 1.