Today sees the second semifinal of the 2010 World Cup, and isn't it a cracker: Germany versus Spain. Just 4 years ago, we saw Schumacher vs Alonso for the F1 crown. This time, we see their respective football teams take to the pitch for the chance to face the Netherlands in Johannesburg.
On the surface, it's a rematch of the Euro 2008 final. But if you look closer, this is a much different German team than the one who played two years ago. Even without the injured Michael Ballack, they seem to be going from strength to strength. This is the team that has scored 4 goals for 3 matches now (2 of them in the knockout stages), against teams of increasing difficulty (Australia, then England, then Argentina).
On the other hand, they had a strange 1-0 loss to Serbia, who didn't even make it past the group stages, but it seems such a distant memory after their recent dominance. Their other concern will be missing Thomas Muller from the lineup, as he is serving a one-game suspension after previously receiving 2 yellow cards.
The new kids on the block take on the veterans from Spain, who no doubt are under significant pressure to win the World Cup for the first time. One may argue that they've had a slightly easier time of it than the Germans - their only real rated foe to date has been Portugal in the Round of 16, yet they've failed to dominate any of their matches. To add to that, they too suffered a strange 1-0 loss to Switzerland, who also failed to make it to the knockout rounds. That said, they've won all the matches they needed to win. And this will almost certainly be their most successful World Cup in 60 (yes, SIXTY) years, no matter what happens from here on out.
The key matchup for me is the battle of the strikers: Germany's Miroslav Klose versus Spain's David Villa. They are the reason their respective teams made it this far, and both are contending for the Golden Boot as well. Look for them to be scoring a goal or three tonight. In case this one goes to penalties (and there's a good chance it will), they will be the center of attention there as well.
So just to confirm today's sole game: Germany vs. Spain - 1930 BST - LIVE on BBC 1
How do I think this will go? It seems my heart and brain agree - Germany looks to be the better team, and I am rooting for them to win this one. They took out my bet Argentina, but they fully deserved to, so I'm transferring my support to them. Never discount Spain, though, as their experience may translate to them handling the pressure better than Germany. I'm predicting a 2-1 win for Germany. I will also go on the record to say that the winner of tonight's fixture will win it all on Sunday night in Soccer City. It's the first evening match I'm staying up for, so I'll see you in the comments!