Arsenal Need German Team Ethic As Spain Get Lucky & Gossip
Germany and Spain progressed with an almost reverse comfort level to a semi-final clash on Wednesday which will see the winning credentials of both tested. Germany are in-form, Spain in-luck; both characteristics will be needed by the eventual champions.
Argentina’s demolition by a four-goal margin should serve as a warning to the Spaniards, whose passing game has been too easily neutered by the opponents. The Italians almost made a virtue out of scraping through to the knockout stages and beyond, Spain are following that route albeit without the defensive assuredness of Azzurri gone by. Spain were livelier once Torres was withdrawn and Fabregas entered the fray but collectively they are a shadow of the team that triumphed two years ago.
Paraguay should have won last night. A rightly disallowed goal and missed penalty would in all likelihood have led to a different outcome had they counted but that is pure conjecture on my part. Spain looked anything but European champions, too easily was their play disrupted.
The penalty given away by Pique was down to stupidity; what possessed the Barcelona centre back to hold on to an arm for grim death? At any level a player is going to tumble in those circumstances. The surprise, I suspect, was that punishment – of sorts – followed. Cardozo’s penalty kick will haunt him in much the same way that Gyan’s from the previous night will.
Within a minute, Spain had returned the compliment, the referee requiring Alonso to retake his spot kick for encroachment, missing the second attempt before Fabregas was cut off at the knees by the goalkeeper in the melee for the rebound. Another penalty, this time not given. Lady Luck turned out to be a señorita in disguise, the woodwork favouring Villa. Nothing aside from the tenacity of the Spaniards will unduly concern their German opponents, their slackness will encourage.
The Germans were hugely impressive once more, swatting away Argentina with more style than against England which is seemingly incredible. The work ethic that they have, the defensive discipline, the technique and comfort on the ball allied to intuitive counter-attacking make their extremely difficult opponents to beat. The speed of passing and thought are the traits Arsene no doubt wants to see in Arsenal, modified for the Premier League.
An early goal put them in the ascendency but stifling the Argentine attack required all of the team to press their opponents and to track back, something that Arsenal do not always achieve. This lesson has to be learned to make the step up from top three to Champions next season. It is no doubt a message which will be driven home this pre-season.
Currently the media darlings, it will be interesting to see how much of chorus for replicating the DFB initiatives in England remains should the Spaniards win in midweek.
In the other semi-final, Robin van Persie decided that he had been injury-free for long enough and had a scan on arm-knack (makes a change from knee or ankle-knack) which proved to be nothing to stop him playing on Tuesday.
Elsewhere, Gael Clichy is to be tempted by an in-house pharmacy that puts the NHS to shame and join Juventus in exchange for Felipe Melo whilst Riccardo Montolivio’s Mr20% says categorically that Arsenal is not negotiating for his client’s services but omitted to mention that he is looking to secure a new deal on the back of his client’s World Cup performances. Unusual for a player to want a pay cut but there you go. Finally, reports based on an unofficial Lorient website suggest that Koscielny will be joining on Monday.