Even before the semifinal began, Germany knew that it would face, in Spain, a much stiffer test than against England and Argentina. For a start, those two teams were undermanned in central midfield. England played a slightly tweaked 4-4-2, with two central midfielders pitted against three Germans: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil. Argentina, in effect, played with only one genuine central midfielder in Javier Mascherano, flanked by converted wingers Angel di Maria and Maxi Rodriguez.

This left both teams fatally exposed to Germany's lightning counterattacks, with Ozil picking up the ball in space each time and feeding the rehearsed runs of wingers Lukas Podolski and Thomas Mueller, the latter supported ably down the right by fullback Philipp Lahm.

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque, on the other hand, deployed (as he always does) two deep-lying midfielders in Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets. This meant that Germany had less space to bomb into, and more obstacles blocking its path. Busquets was especially critical on Wednesday night, reading Germany's intentions clearly to steal ahead of Ozil and nick the ball off his feet on numerous occasions.

The average position maps on the FIFA website show Busquets and Ozil occupying virtually the same spot on the pitch. With the playmaker thus nullified, Spain's other midfielders could press up on Schweinsteiger and Khedira. Schweinsteiger, as a result, enjoyed none of the space and time he revelled in against Argentina.

To add to this, Spain has no equal in ball retention. No one better illustrated this than Xavi Hernandez, who completed 92 of the 106 passes he attempted. Germany had the smaller share of possession even against England and Argentina, but neither opponent passed the ball around in dangerous areas of the pitch for as long as Spain did.

This was due in large part to the eagerness of fullbacks Sergio Ramos and Joan Capdevila to get forward, something their Argentine and English counterparts failed to match. This pinned back Germany's wide players to a large extent. Despite Spain's apparent superiority and the chances it fashioned, the game was decided only by one goal, that too from a set piece.

Had Pedro Rodriguez finished a promising counterattack late in the game, or laid the ball off to the unmarked Fernando Torres, the scoreline may have better reflected the extent of Spain's domination.

How much did Germany miss the suspended Thomas Mueller? The 20-year-old is a willing worker on the right flank, and might have shared some of skipper Lahm's defensive burden. In attack, neither Piotr Trochowski nor Toni Kroos emulated Mueller's off-the-ball movement, and attacked the penalty area far less.

An unmarked Kroos did get a chance from an excellent Podolski cross in the second half, but struck his first-time effort within reach of Iker Casillas. Aside from that, Germany created little. Striker Miroslav Klose was subdued in aerial battles, with Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol handling his threat with surprising ease.

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