An absolute mismatch and a potential classic.
That’s what the World Cup has delivered us as Netherlands takes on Uruguay on Tuesday and Germany squares off with Spain on Wednesday in the tournament semifinals.
Let’s take a look at the two contests:
URUGUAY VS. NETHERLANDS
Here’s the mismatch, folks.
Uruguay enters the contest well below full strength due to injuries and suspensions after it reached the semifinals with a shootout win against Ghana.
Coach Oscar Tabarez will be without talented striker Luis Suarez, who will sit out the match following his red card for an intentional handball in the closing moments of overtime against Ghana.
Tabarez also will be without the services of Jorge Ciro Fucile, who’s suspended after receiving his second yellow card of the tournament in the quarterfinals.
It also looks as though midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro will miss the match with an injury and team captain/defender Diego Lugano could also sit this one out as well.
Things are quite different on the other side of the pitch as the Dutch, who ousted perennial power Brazil in the quarterfinals, will be playing at nearly full strength, missing midfielder Nigel de Jong and right back Gregory van der Wiel after they picked up a second yellow card in the quarterfinals.
There isn’t a deep World Cup history between these countries.
They’ve only faced each other once on this stage, during group play in 1974 when Netherlands prevailed 2-0.
The Dutch have a dangerous offense and come forward in numbers, so look for Uruguay to bunker in around its defensive third and hope to pull out a goal of its own on the counterattack.
PREDICTION: Netherlands 2, Uruguay 0. This should be a one-sided affair. The Dutch are playing some of their best soccer in years and should roll.
Look for the Netherlands to shut down Uruguay star Diego Forlan and pick up a goal in each half on its way to the finale.
SPAIN VS. GERMANY
Soccer aficionados are drooling over this showdown between Spain — the world’s second-ranked team — and a feisty Germany side that steamrolled Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Germany has made a living reaching this point in its World Cup history. This marks its third consecutive trip to the semifinals and record 12th time overall.
Germany has won the crown three times, with its most recent title coming in 1990.
In contrast, Spain has never won a World Cup or reached the championship.
The powerhouses have faced each other twice in prior World Cups, with Germany winning 2-1 both times.
Spain enters the match in decent shape in terms of health after its 1-0 win against Paraguay in the semifinals. It has just two players carrying a yellow card into the match.
Germany, on the other hand, must fill a significant void as it will be without the services of standout Thomas Muller — one of the team’s leading scorers — who will miss the match due to suspension after picking up his second yellow card in the Argentina win.
Spain is led by star David Villa and will need him to add to his tournament-leading goal total if it hopes to advance to the title game.
Germany has the dangerous tandem of scoring threats Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.
PREDICTION: Germany 2, Spain 1. After watching the Germans absolutely dismantle Argentina, I can’t see them coming up short against Spain. Youth prevails in this match as Germany marches on to the final in search of its fourth championship.
Contact Jeremy Pond at email@example.com.