Key to Spain vs. Germany: Will Schweinsteiger outplay Xavi?(Read article summary)
Today's Spain vs. Germany semifinal match may come down to a midfield battle between Germany's Bastian Schweinsteiger and Spain's midfield maestro, Xavi.
You don’t often see Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger in the highlight reels. No, you probably saw Lukas Podolski blast a precision shot from a tight angle, or second all-time leading World Cup scorer Miroslav Klose burying a header.
But check the replay. Chances are that Schweinsteiger either had the assist or was somehow instrumental in creating the goal.
The tireless Bayern Munich midfielder has been the engine of Germany’s remarkable roll through this World Cup.
For the best example of this, all you need to do is watch how Schweinsteiger tore through Argentina’s defense before handing a goal to Klose on a silver platter.
“Bastian’s responsibility for the team was noticeable from the moment we were at the Tyroltraining camp,” Germany coach Joachim Loew told reporters. “He’s matured tremendously over the last few years and, aided by his success at Bayern Munich, it’s turned him, if you like, into a real grown up.”
Oh, he’s grown now. No question about it.
Schweinsteiger has come of age and is now knocking down entire defenses like an Ivan Drago on steroids. (As a colleague of mine pointed out, Schweinsteiger does bear a striking resemblance to Dolph Lundgren, the Swedish actor who played the fictional Soviet boxer in Rocky IV.)
So, will the smaller, silkier Spanish midfielder, Xavi, be Rocky Balboa when the two teams face off later today?
That may depend on how Xavi is able to draw German defenders with a feint here and a feint there before he dishes the ball to ravenous striker David Villa, the World Cup’s top scorer.
Remember the back-heel pass to Villa for the game-winning goal against Portugal?
He'll need to reproduce that form if the Red Fury are to top Germany.
World Cup 101: