It's Spain again
Jamie Redknapp is sticking with Spain, even if Fernando Torres is on the bench against Germany.
Last Updated: 07/07/10 3:36pm
I suppose there are two big questions going into this game: can Germany keep the momentum going? And do Spain start without Fernando Torres?
Starting with Germany, there is no doubt they are a team on a high at the moment. They will sit in that dressing room in Durban thinking they can beat anyone. Even the European champions.
They have so much momentum behind them, they all know what they're doing and are a young side full of confidence. A fair few of them came through the Under-21's together which helps and I can imagine that they are loving every minute of this World Cup; they must be having a real giggle.
Of course Thomas Muller is suspended and will be a big, big loss, but there are so many positives in this German side, if anyone can deal with his absence, it's this them.
They have Mesut Ozil to create and drop deep, Miroslav Klose leading the line wonderfully, Lukas Podolski playing well and in Bastian Schweinsteiger, they have a player who really could walk into any club side in the world right now.
His transformation from a winger to a proper central midfielder who can pick the ball up and dictate games has been incredible; he has really grown into that role and has such an authority about him, as we all saw against Argentina. I know I am a little biased but he really does remind me of Frank Lampard when he started to emerge as a world-class midfielder.
I have to say I thought Argentina were a bit of a shambles, but as well as a team high on confidence, they were up against a very astute young coach.
Joachim Loew has been a revelation at this World Cup and is clearly the perfect man for that young squad.
He seems to encourage them to attack as often and as quickly as they can and as we have seen in the two knockout games, he knows how to deal with the opposition and is tactically smart.
You hear his players saying he prepared them for this, worked on that and while some international teams don't need coaching as such, he realises this young side do - and they clearly love playing for him.
He reminds me a little of Jose Mourinho in that he is calm, smart and seems to be straight down the line. Win or lose here, I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of him.
Low will know there is no point going out there trying to out-pass Spain and he knows his side are probably going to see less of the football. But Germany are brilliant on the counter and if there is one side that can catch Spain out, it might well be them.
Now for the big debate in the Spanish camp... Fernando Torres.
A lot has been made of his form so far and I have to say, it does look like he is short of match fitness and sharpness. Of course you never want to leave out world-class strikers, but there has to be a time when Vicente del Bosque might have to - and this might be it.
If he thinks Torres is chasing it too much, almost trying too hard, then maybe it might be time not to start with him. I say that rather than leave him out, because it boils down to using him in a different way.
I would make it quite clear that I was planning to use him for the last half-an-hour, maybe even for the second half, after giving him a rest on the bench.
You don't leave players like Torres out, not in a World Cup semi-final, but you change the impact he can have on a game. Can you imagine Arne Friedrich and Per Mertesacker's reaction when, having dealt with everything for an hour, they see Torres coming off the bench? Only Del Bosque can make the decision, but that is what I would do if I were in his position.
It would of course mean David Villa moving into the middle, but you have to say they have looked a better side whenever that has happened. Getting Cesc Fabregas in behind him and moving Andres Iniesta out to the left might also free up a bit of room for Xavi as well.
I am hoping there is more to come from that Spain midfield because I don't think they have been at their best so far. Maybe we are so used to seeing Xavi and Iniesta at the very top of their game, but I don't think they have quite bit themselves and Xabi Alonso has been poor, as has Sergio Busquets. And without Marcos Senna in there they do look a little vulnerable defensively
It seems strange to say for a side in the semi-finals of the World Cup, but Spain as a whole have not really found their best form yet - except of course, one man.
Villa has to be the best player still in it and probably the player of the tournament. He just can't stop scoring, tap-ins or great goals, and Germany don't need me to tell them he is the one man they have to stop. The fact that Spain have scored six goals and he has got five of them says it all.
He is in a purple patch at just the right time you have to back him to score, although 43 goals in 63 international games suggests his career has been one long purple patch!
Spain win - This could be an absolute classic because Spain will keep possession but the one side that is set up to hit them on the counter attack is Germany. I am hoping we are going to see goals and an early one here, for either side, really could see it all go off. It's so hard to pick between the solidity and winning mentality of Spain and the sheer freedom and momentum of Germany, but I'll go with the European champions because I picked them at the start, by the odd goal. Maybe 2-1.
David Villa - Who else can it be? There are some terrific players in the German side who have had terrific tournaments, but this lad is unstoppable right now. He must walk out onto that pitch thinking he is going to score and that alone makes him such a threat. What I like about him is he gets all sorts of goals as well and his movement, coming in from the left, suits the way Spain play to a tee. Just thinking about him lining up for Barcelona next season makes your mouth water!