Unlikely hero Puyol sends Spain to first World Cup final
Carles Puyol rose like a man on a mission to head Spain to a 1-0 win over Germany and into the country’s first ever World Cup final.
La Furia Roja are now 8/15 favourites to win the trophy, with Holland an 11/8 chance.
For all the the pre-match talk of Germany’s prolific forwards and David Villa it seemed almost aptly ironic that the rugged Barcelona captain would be the one to send Spain to their first World Cup final.
We are now assured to see a new name on the trophy – either Holland or Spain will be the eighth nation to lift the cup.
Remarkably, it will also be the first time the two countries have met at a major competition. Spain are 11/10 to win Sunday’s match in 90 minutes, while Holland are 5/2. The draw at full-time is a 23/10 shot.
Puyol’s strike 17 minutes from time was only his third for Spain but it was the minimum Vicente Del Bosque’s team deserved. They bossed the battle from the start, controlling the tempo and possession, giving the gifted Germans no time to impose their style of play.
The second-half strike replicated the side’s wins over Portugal and Paraguay in previous games. A fourth consecutive 1-0 win in the final is an 11/2 chance.
Joachim Low’s side performed admirably without much of the ball in the first half, though, restricting Spain to only a Villa chance which Manuel Neuer smothered well.
Indeed a break from Mesut Ozil late in the half was only stopped by Sergio Ramos on the edge of the box, with replays showing it was a foul that could have seen the Real Madrid right-back walking.
Such a sight would have been unfair in the scheme of things and in the second 45 Spain stepped up a notch to eventually pry the German defence open from a corner which Puyol bulleted in. He is 40/1 to score first again against Holland.
With ten minutes to go Pedro could have made the game safe, running clear with only Arne Friedrich to beat and Fernando Torres in support. But the diminutive Barcelona winger twisted and turned rather than pass or shoot and the opportunity was snuffed out.
A goal for Pedro would have been just rewards for a player who was arguably Spain’s best on the night. Demonstrating a superb touch, creative passing and determination belying his inexperience (it was his only start for his country) Pedro could have sealed a place in the starting line-up against Holland. He is 7/1 to open the scoring in the final.
Who out of Iker Cassilas and Giovanni Van Bronckhorst will lift their country’s first World Cup? Spain are 10/1 to win after extra-time, while Holland are 11/1 to do the same. See the full Holland v Spain match betting market.