After defeating England 4-1 and then Argentina 4-0 in the first two matches of the World Cup knockout stage, the Germans peaked wonderfully and early.
Germany entered the tournament as the team of no stars. Even Miroslav Klose, the leading scorer at WC 2006, could walk down the streets of any city outside Germany and not be noticed. And yet, if he scores twice in the third-place match against Uruguay in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, he will become the greatest World Cup striker of all time.
But only one goal mattered here in Durban. It came from the defender – Chucky Puyol, the player least like the team; the player more German in hair style than Spanish; the bastion of organization and sheer hard work.
There was nothing pretty about the goal that won the match, but one could argue that Spain won it before a ball was kicked; Spain won because, tactically, it was light years ahead of Germany; Spain won because Germany’s style of play was too simple and too contrived.
The World Cup final is usually – but not always – between the right two teams. In Soccer City on Sunday, Spain and Holland will be the right teams for the right occasion.
England was too hyped. Argentina was too naïve. Brazil was too error-prone. Germany was too easy to work out.
For Spain, however, there is a sense that their best is yet to come. And hopefully the same can be said of Holland.
Nick Webster is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com.