World Cup Previews: Germany and Spain Compete For the Final

06 July 2010

Spain's Andres Iniesta dribbles a ball during their team training session in Durban, South Africa. (Credit Image: © epa/ZUMApress.com)
The Semi-Finals conclude on Wednesday with a rematch of the Euro 2008 finals as Germany and Spain square off in Durban. The winner plays Holland in the final, the loser gets Uruguay on Saturday.

Jeff got his pick correct on Tuesday, his record is now 29 wins, 20 losses, and 8 no results. Johnathan’s result on Tuesday was a no result, seeing his record now move to 24 wins, 26 losses, and 7 no results.

Note: If we're using the handicap line, we will include what the spread is. If it spread is 0, a draw will mean no result. If we use the Over/Under line, just add the total number of goals scored in a match. Please note that this will all be based on the scoreline at Full Time (90 minutes). For betting purposes, only the result after 90 minutes are counted. Our odds are courtesy of Centsports.

2:30 pm on ESPN: Germany v Spain
Johnathan Starling
: These two teams have taken two totally different routes to the semi-finals. Germany have impressed the most, while Spain have struggled to a point in getting here. Germany do have a major loss with the suspension of Thomas Mueller, but they do have replacements in Toni Kroos. Even Cacau could be slotted into that role. With regards to Spain, Cesc will probably play, even with his leg and shoulder bothering him. Carlos Puyol is cleared to return, which is a big help to their defense.
I hate to say it this bluntly, but if Germany can get to David Villa, they can get to Spain. Fernando Torres is not fit. Their entire strike force has been abysmal in this World Cup. The truth is though, Spain’s defense has carried this team. However, they have been broken down. Germany, on the other hand, have been the complete package. Yes, Mueller’s loss is a big one, but they have played the total team game. While I do think this game will be close, and possibly see extra time, there is only one winner in my mind. My prediction is Germany on the 0 line at -110.
Jeff Hash:  I have to be honest: I don't have a real clue how to settle this game in my mind.  If we base it on overall world cup performances, it should go to Germany.  They have been rampant in putting the ball into the net.  But just two years ago, these two met in the European Championships final, with Spain coming out victorious.  Its a bit dangerous to use past performances in a situation like this, but given the enormity of both games, it seems to hint that Spain is capable.  Spain has been hurting for goals as been said, but there is just enough there to cause a surprise at any moment.  Germany's defense, though, has certainly not let their attackers down.  The more I think about this game, the more I only feel good about one thought: the defense rising to the moment.  Only one team may have good striking, but both teams are good defenders.  My best bet, then, is to take the under 2.5 goals at -150.  I wish I could say something better than that, but tomorrow's game is truly as much of a coin flip as one can hope for this late in a tournament.

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World Cup Previews: Holland and Uruguay start the Semi-Finals

Netherlands national soccer team player Arjen Robben kicks the ball during the team's training session at the Athlone Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa. (Credit Image: © epa/ZUMApress.com)
So…did you have Uruguay v Holland in a semi-final of this World Cup prior to the competition starting? If you did, I hope you have made plenty of cash during this World Cup. If you didn’t, well enjoy being in the vast majority with you.

The quarter-finals were not kind to me, and only a little bit better for Jeff. Jeff’s record over the quarterfinals was 2 wins and 2 losses, compared to Johnathan’s 1 win, 2 losses, and 1 no result. Jeff’s record now stand at 30 wins, 22 losses, and 8 no results. Johnathan’s record is an even worse 25 wins, 28 losses, and 7 no results.

2:30 pm on ESPN: Uruguay v Holland
Johnathan Starling
: I have to admit; after Luis Suarez’s actions in Uruguay’s quarterfinal victory over Ghana, I want them to be humiliated in the worst way possible against Holland. It also helps that Jorge Fucile and Nicolas Lodeiro will be missing as well and Diego Lugano is a fifty/fifty proposition at best. Yea Nigel De Jong is missing for Holland, but he can be replaced.
I think this game is going to be ugly in every sense of the word. I don’t think Uruguay is going to be going forward too often, and Arjen Robben is going to continue to remind us at how ‘clever’ he has become in the art of simulation. But cutting all the crap aside, this is going to end up one sided. I think Holland is heading back to the World Cup finals, and I think they do it very comfortably. My prediction is Holland -1 at +110.
Jeff Hash: Let's set aside the debate over Suarez and the handball: while there's a lot of reasons to not be thrilled about it, that ship has sailed.  Instead, one stat should sum up what Uruguayis now facing: the Dutch have got 5 wins in 5 games at this World Cup.  And in thinking about it, none of them have been particularly close.  The only way Uruguay can possibly keep up with the Netherlands is by not giving up the ball.  That's going to be a tough ask with a number of names gone from their regular lineup.  Yes, Diego Forlan can score at the drop of a hat, but I think the counters are going to be few in this one.  There just isn't enough of a reason to believe in the upset here, but the Netherlands haven't been blowing doors off either, opting for largely one goal results.  With that in mind, i'll just take the Netherlands to win outright at -165.

So what are your thoughts on this Semi-Final match up? Let us know in the comments below.

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World Cup Previews: The Quarterfinals

01 July 2010

Ghana's Asamoah Gyan reacts during a training session by the Ghana national soccer team at Rand Stadium in Johannesburg. (Credit Image: © epa/ZUMApress.com)
It's hard to believe that it was only 3 weeks ago the World Cup opened with South Africa and Mexico. On Friday, the quarterfinals begin. To be honest, I was happy we had the 2 days to recharge the batteries because I had finally burned out.

These quarterfinals provide two great match-ups on paper, and two potential sleepers. We also still have the possibility of an all COMMEBOL semi-final.

With Jeff having family commitments on Friday, we have decided we will do all four quarterfinal matches tonight. Jeff's record currently sits at 28 wins, 20 losses, and 8 no results.Johnathan's record is 24 wins, 26 losses, and 6 no results.

Note: If we're using the handicap line, we will include what the spread is. If it spread is 0, a draw will mean no result. If we use the Over/Under line, just add the total number of goals scored in a match. Please note that this will all be based on the scoreline at Full Time (90 minutes). For betting purposes, only the result after 90 minutes are counted. Our odds are courtesy of Centsports.

Friday 10:00 am on ESPN: Holland v Brazil
Johnathan Starling: For the first time in this World Cup, Holland is completely healthy. Brazil will be without two key players in their starting eleven, and could be without two more. Holland played their round of sixteen match up like they were already through. That concerns me for one reason: it's hard to flip the switch after playing so lackadaisical just a few days prior. Brazil still has Kaka, and we all know the magic he can start. The problem I think for Brazil is, I think Kaka is also going to need to finish it as well. Since I think this game is going to end in extra time, my prediction is Holland +1 at -200. I do think however, Brazil will eventually win.
Jeff Hash: So, we lead off with the most anticipated of the 4 matchups. That figures for some reason. Putting that aside, the Netherlands did alright in defeating Slovakia, but it wasn't the most resounding win I've seen.  Brazil meanwhile, more than handled its business against Chile. I have a feeling the talent is about even between these two sides, and it will result in a bit of a bitter stalemate. I expect this game to be tight. My pick, then is to go under 2.5 goals at -140.

Friday 2:30 pm on ESPN: Uruguay v Ghana
Johnathan Starling: For one of these nations, their magical run through this World Cup is coming to an end. Both sides showed their poise in picking up late wins in the round of sixteen, but their form early in the second half has to be slightly called into question. Uruguay will have to deal with the most pace they have had to deal with so far at this World Cup, and that is a major concern. Ghana will have to deal with containing Luis Suarez, a man who seemingly can score from anywhere. I think when it's all said and done, I think Uruguay will absorb plenty of pressure in the first hour of this match, and attack with Ghana's legs start to fade. My prediction is Uruguay to win outright on even money.
Jeff Hash: Two great stories culminating in one big game at the quarterfinal stage with the South American underdogs and African long shots. Its great to see a game like this can happen in the last 8. But as far as Ghana goes, I'm really worried about the fact that they won't be full-strength due to suspensions for Andre Ayew and Jonathan Mensah. Throwing Luis Suarez on top of that seems to be too much for Ghana to take. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm with John: I will take Uruguay to win outright at even money.

Saturday 10:00 am on ABC: Argentina v Germany
Johnathan Starling: Controversy aside, both sides completely tore through the round of sixteen. If I had to be impressed about either one, I'd call it a draw. What do we know about both of these nations? I think it's pretty simple: they can attack with the best of them, and defend very well. However, where I am most concerned is when something doesn't go exactly in Germany's favor. They have melted down twice so far in this World Cup after unfavorable things happened, and their opposition struck. I have to be honest, after thinking for most of this week that this tie was extra time bound, I think Argentina extracts their pound of flesh from their elimination at this stage in 2006. My prediction is Argentina to win outright at +120.
Jeff Hash: In my mind, this game will produce the ultimate winner of this World Cup. Yes, I'm being serious about it. Both teams are flying around the field and making relatively few mistakes. Certainly, both teams are trading words around like they're playing for the title. But I have to wonder: has Argentina met a defense quite like Germany's yet? Some may say Greece, but to be honest, I think Germany is more actively dangerous with their backline. Germany, meanwhile, has shown plenty of goal prowess at just about any time. I think this one is poised to go the Europeans, but I think its going to take more than 90 minutes. So, my pick is to take Germany on the 0 at +130.

Saturday 2:30 pm on ABC: Paraguay v Spain
Johnathan Starling: Both sides played ugly round of sixteen matches, and came through in two totally different ways. However, I think Spain simply has too many weapons for Paraguay to overcome. While I think Paraguay can keep the scoreline respectable, I don't think they have a shot at winning. My prediction is Spain -1 at -130.
Jeff Hash: Consider this about Paraguay: they haven't scored in the last two games, and they were up against New Zealand and Japan. That's very troublesome as far as their chances of winning go. I can't see them coming good against Spain when they couldn't break the Oceania/Asian duo down. But Spain isn't scoring much either, totally 5 goals in 4 games. I'm think Spain will win, but I'm going to go the cheap route for a win: under 2.5 goals at -175.  Expect very little to happen in this one.

How do you think these Quarterfinals will go? Let us know in the comments below.

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Johnathan Starling, the self proclaimed 'most brutally honest man on the net, dishes out his own unique brand of opinions, and analysis on the Premier League, Bundesliga, and all things US Soccer.

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