Spain/FC Barcelona reaches semi-finals of the World Cup

Spanish team features no less than seven regulars from the Catalan champions. In a surprising week, Brazil and Argentina were sent home, while Spain reached semi-finals for the first time in its history.

Christopher Tulloch

July 5, 2010 04:40 PM

Barcelona (CNA).- The third week of the FIFA World Cup will go down in football history for the drama and surprises of the quarter-finals and for the fact that one team –FC Barcelona- has provided no less than seven players for the backbone of the Spanish team which has now reached the semi-finals for the first time in its history.
Despite all the pre-tournament hype about the power of the South American teams and the consolidation of African football on the world stage, the semi-finals are made up of three European teams –the Netherlands, Germany and Spain- and just one South American side, surprise package Uruguay which put paid to the hopes of Ghana after a dramatic penalty shoot-out. Brazil, featuring Barça right back Dani Alves, fell 2-1 to a disciplined Dutch side whose front three, Sneijder (who scored twice), Robben and Huntelaar, were all forced to abandon Real Madrid last season.

Germany’s 4-0 drubbing of Leo Messi’s Argentina was probably the biggest surprise of the tournament so far as the world’s best player continues to play better for FC Barcelona than for his national side. So who was Germany to meet: Spain or Paraguay? Coach Vicente del Bosque decided to send out what he knew to be the winning formula based on the same team that won this year’s Spanish league title, FC Barcelona. With Puyol and Pique at the back, Busquets, Xavi and Iniesta in the middle and Villa and later Pedro up front, Spain came through after a nervous performance thanks to an 84th minute strike from Barça striker and the tournament’s top goalscorer, David Villa.

The semi-finals, Netherlands versus Uruguay and Germany versus Spain are to be played on Tuesday and Wednesday this coming week. Although Germany looks unstoppable, a possible final could be between the two best footballing countries never to win a World Cup: the Netherlands and Spain, the latter thanks largely to the boys from Barcelona.