Puyol goal puts Spain in World Cup final
A 73rd minute header from Barça’s Carles Puyol gave Spain a 1-0 win over Germany and sealed the country’s qualification for its first ever World Cup final against Holland on Sunday.
It was a tense game against a side that had reached the semi final by putting four goals past both
England and Argentina. But Spain succeeded where both those teams had failed and maintained an
extraordinary amount of possession whilst neutralising Germany’s rapid counter-attacking
The Magnificent Seven
It may have been Vicente del Bosque on the bench rather than Pep Guardiola, and the
players may have been wearing red shirts, but the Spanish team was curiously reminiscent of the
Barcelona team that won six trophies in 2009.
And that can come as no surprise, for no fewer than six of Spain’s starting eleven were
FC Barcelona products – plus new signing David Villa, who will clearly have no trouble
settling in at his new club, where he will be surrounded by familiar international team mates.
Piqué and Puyol have started every game in the centre of the Spanish defence, Iniesta, Xavi
and the superlative Busquets provide the engine of the Spanish team in midfield, and there was a
further Barcelona inclusion in the form of Pedro, who started as striker in place of the
out-of-form Fernando Torres.
The entire ninety minutes were almost a monologue of Spanish possession, with Joachim
Low’s side never managing to produce any of the stylish football that had done so much to
impress the world until now. The German manager put it in a nutshell after the game when he said
“I have to congratulate Spain for playing so well. They have once again shown their class and
we simply could not find a way of playing our game. Spain play the ball around like nobody.”
Much as FC Barcelona can rightly feel proud of their contribution to the win, Joan Capdevila,
Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso and Iker Casillas also blended in brilliantly, with the Madrid keeper
producing some goalkeeping brilliance in Germany’s few encroachments on the Spanish goal.
Puyol breaks the deadlock
But much as Spain clearly deserved the win, the only goal of the game took some time
in coming. Their total dominance of the midfield only managed to produce a series of half-chances
and speculative long-range efforts, with Xavi Alonso, Xavi and Pedro coming close, and Villa
failing by millimetres to tap home an Iniesta assist.
But then, in the 73rd minute, Xavi sent the ball swinging into the area from the corner flag,
and Carles Puyol leapt to meet it and drive home a powerful header that left Neuer flailing in the
German goal. It meant that all seven of Spain’s goals in this championship have been scored
by Barça players.
The goal meant Germany were forced to move their lines forward, which only played into
Spanish hands. The three-times world champions rarely looked like getting back into the game, while
the Spaniards could and probably should have stretched their lead, especially when Pedro found
himself one on one with the goalkeeper.
The upshot of it all is that Spain have now qualified for the first World Cup in their
history, which will be against Holland on Sunday. Whatever happens, there is going to be a new
winner of the FIFA World Cup, and if that winner is Spain, then FC Barcelona can feel proud to have
contributed so enormously to this incredible Spanish team.
Germany: Neuer, Friedrich, Khedira (Mario Gómez, 80'), Schweinsteiger, Özil,
Podolski, Klose, Trochowski (Kroos, 61'), Lahm, Mertesacker and Boateng (Jansen, 51').
Spain: Casillas, Piqué, Puyol, Iniesta, Villa (Torres, 81'), Xavi, Capdevila,
Alonso (Marchena, 92'), Ramos, Busquets and Pedro (Silva, 86').
Goals: Puyol (73')
Referee: Viktor Kassai