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Spain vs Germany Match Analysis


In Spain, the match was dubbed ‘the final before the final.’ It’s common in Spanish media culture to hear coaches emphasize that ‘every game is a final,’ even if it’s “only” a quarterfinal. The stakes were incredibly high, and it indeed felt like a final, but it wasn’t one. 

Spain and Germany had been the standout favorites to win the competition, standing tall as the only two giants who lived up to expectations, unlike England and France. In this epic clash, the tournament hosts witnessed a dramatic end that left fans on the edge of their seats.

Battle Of The Giants

This clash was poised to be the pinnacle of high-level football, with two giants facing off. Both Spain and Germany showcased expertise across various phases, establishing themselves as the most balanced teams of the tournament. 

Julian Nagelsmann’s Germany focused on counter-pressing to patch any gaps in their system. Spain looked to convert their advantage into tangible results. The first quarter saw a messy beginning, with both teams showing clear intentions but lacking the precision needed, leading to mistakes on both ends.

Fans were set for a thrilling evening of football, as Julian Nagelsmann had promised. Both teams knew they had to capitalize on their strengths. The match took a dramatic turn in the seventh minute when Toni Kroos’s challenge unfortunately injured Pedri, forcing him to leave the pitch early. Reports suggest Pedri might be sidelined for one or two months. Surprisingly, Kroos escaped without a booking.

Luis de La Fuente was forced to rethink his strategy, as he lacked a player of Pedri’s caliber to fill the crucial role, significantly altering Spain’s game plan.

Pedri’s Injury Changed Everything

Pedri’s early injury dramatically altered the course of the match. Dani Olmo was subbed on in the eighth minute, adding another attacker to Spain’s lineup and disrupting the balance of both sides. This likely contributed to Spain’s lack of control throughout the match, even before the second-half substitutions.

Initially, Spain looked set to win the game, finding more clarity in the final third than Germany. However, the Germans fought back, prompting Julian Nagelsmann to make key changes at half-time. 

Emre Can was replaced by Robert Andrich, while Florian Witz joined the attacking dynamics. While these changes might seem routine, they made it much harder for Spain, they significantly increased the pressure on Spain, who struggled to maintain the intensity.

Germany Takes Advantage Of De La Fuente’s Poor Management

Germany found their stride and created several chances as the match progressed, largely due to Luis de La Fuente’s questionable substitutions. By subbing off Lamine Yamal, Nico Williams and finally Alvaro Morata between the 63rd and 80th minute, Spain’s attacking threat significantly diminished.

Dani Olmo had given Spain a 1-0 lead in the 51st minute, but de La Fuente’s changes seemed to signal a contentment with the narrow lead. Ferrán Torres, Mikel Merino, and Mikel Oyarzabal came on, but the attacking tempo of Spain noticeably weakened. 

One of the main reasons why Germany had been struggling in the first half was the individual brilliance of Spain’s wingers,with Lamine Yamal repeatedly dribbling past the German defense despite aggressive marking. David Raum, in particular, was exposed, struggling to contain Yamal’s incisive runs.

The situation was similar on the other wing, where Joshua Kimmich faced a tough battle against Nico Williams. But unlike David Raum, Kimmich excelled defensively, showcasing a masterclass in marking and leadership.

Kimmich’s defensive display should be shown at the Louvre – as he was Germany’s best player on the pitch. When Germany looked down, demotivated, this was when Kimmich was seen leading his team by example. In contrast, Toni Rüdiger often over-committed, creating gaps that Spain exploited.

The Equalizer

In the dying minutes of the match, with Spain clinging to a 1-0 lead, Germany seized their opportunity. The Spanish fans could sense the impending danger, feeling that 90 minutes might not be enough to secure the victory.

The introduction of Florian Wirtz, who increasingly was more present between the lines, became a major differential. Spain’s defensive woes were compounded by the substitution of Robin Le Normand, who was already suspended for the next round due to accumulated yellow cards. Nacho looked far from ready for this type of intensity as the team sucked up the pressure. 

Eventually, Germany’s equalizer proved to be the result of a combination involving Wirtz and Sané, as Spain was too disbanded to follow the two stars. With the game now tied, the stage was set for a tense final 30 minutes to determine if the match would be decided by penalties.

Merino Is The Hero

Thankfully for Spain, Mikel Merino had other plans. Extra time is usually deemed borin, and useless by many, often leading to scrappy football as both teams tire from running. This was very much the case until it wasn’t. 

Mikel Merino leaped high, twisting his body and calling on every muscle to execute an acrobatic header. Manuel Neuer was left helpless as the ball soared into the net. Thirty-three years after his father, the Merinos had done it again. 

With just one minute remaining, Germany could only blame themselves. Niclas Füllkrug had a golden opportunity to equalize, but he squandered it. The result was clear—Germany faced elimination.

Aftermath

For Germany, this is the end. But they can only blame themselves for it – these are the margins at a high level. The game was entertaining, as promised by Julian Nagelsmann. 

For the first time in many years, Germany looked like a team with ideas, intent and execution. While they lacked the final edge, there is no doubt that the DFB will be pleased with Nagelsmann’s work, despite not making it to the final. Many did not trust Germany’s chances, yet they showed a high level that was only outdone by Spain’s expertise.

While Spain is advancing to the semifinal against France, the clash promises to be even tougher. Not only because of the opponent but also due to the depleted squad. Robin Le Normand will miss the game due to suspension, and Dani Carvajal’s heroic red card, which stopped his man and sacrificed himself for the team, means the right-back will not play. He’s likely to be replaced by Jesus Navas. Pedri is already out as well. In other words, it’s not looking great. 

It doesn’t help that Spain will face one of the best defensive teams of the tournament, who have not conceded many goals or scored heavily. This matchup could be framed as the best attacking team versus the best defensive team of the tournament.

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