Germany vs Spain: Patience pays as Puyol and the Red Fury make World Cup history

Spain will go to the World Cup championship match for the first time after a header by Carles Puyol helped them expose the weaknesses of Germany’s counterattacking style. In the Germany vs Spain semifinal, Spain wins 1-0.

By , Staff writer

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    GERMANY VS SPAIN: Spain's Carles Puyol, right, heads the ball into the back of the net during today's semifinal World Cup soccer match in Durban, South Africa. Spain won 1-0.
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Carles Puyol, you are forgiven!

All of Spain is now worshiping at the feet of the rough-and-tumble defender with the Heavy Metal hairdo.

After missing a great chance on a header in the first half, Puyol came flying in on a corner kick in the 72nd minute to smash a line-drive header past the outstretched arm of German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and into the goal.

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It was sweet redemption for Puyol, glory for the longsuffering fans of Spain, and a first-ever ticket to the World Cup final for the Red Fury.

The victory was well-deserved as Spain dominated the Germans and clipped the wings of a soaring team that had been chewing up and spitting out top-class opponents.

How on earth did that happen? Simple. Spain stuck to their style.

They dominated possession of the ball, dictated the pace and flow of the game, and patiently knocked the ball about in their now-famous “Tiki-Taka” style of pinball-wizard passing.

In the end, their patience paid off, just as it has throughout the World Cup. They may not win by much, but they win. And they look great doing it.

From the opening whistle they got their Tiki-Taka going, complete with backheel passes and lovely displays of dribbling. They even created a few chances on goal. But for the most part, Germany locked down the goal mouth, putting at least five players in the box every time Spain threatened.

Germany failed to strike early as they had done a couple of times this World Cup. And, as is their wont, they waited for counterattack opportunities with star striker, Miroslav Klose, circling Spain’s box like a Great White shark trolling for seals.

Perhaps in an effort to sow fear in the hearts of the Spanish, Klose chased down balls most forwards would leave to the defenders. But Spain remained nonplussed, and knocked the ball about arrogantly, almost offended by the brutish efforts of the northern competitors.

Germany almost stole a counterattack goal right before halftime when Mesut Ozil streaked into the box and went down after a bump from Sergio Ramos that the Germans thought should have been a penalty. But the Hungarian referee was having none of it.

The Germans came out fast in the second half, but Spain, again, quickly seized control of the game by putting the ball in the Tiki-Taka conveyor belt.

Twice, early on in the half, they teed up shots taken by Xabi Alonso, who failed to really test Neuer. And fans everywhere were beginning to wonder if Spain’s possession game was just too cute.

They’d controlled the game, looked threatening, made the impressive Germans look almost amateurish, but would they ever score?

Were they planning to pass or dribble the ball into the net? And what if Germany scores on the counterattack? How cute would Tiki-Taka be then?

Not one for cuteness, Puyol had seen enough. And with a primal burst of energy, he shattered the cuteness into a million tiny pieces with his line-drive header.

The handwringing stopped. Tiki-Taka was vindicated. Germany’s reliance on a counterattack style of play was exposed.

History was made. And - most important - Paul the octopus's World Cup prediction record remains unblemished.

IN PICTURES: Paul the octopus predicts World Cup outcomes

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