Spain vs. USA - Confederations Cup Semifinals Preview and Pick Wednesday, June 24 2009. 20.30 CET
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
On Wednesday night at the Free State Stadium in Mangaung, South Africa the USA takes on Spain in the semifinals of the Confederations Cup. While it is no surprise that Spain made it to the semis it is a huge shock that the USA did. Going into their last group game the Americans needed to beat Egypt 3-0 and have Brazil beat Italy 3-0. That is exactly what happened and even though the USA was tied at 1-2 in group play with both Italy, who beat the USA, and Egypt the Americans made it to the semis on goal differential.
The USA scored 3 goals in their game against Egypt, but it will be much harder to score on Spain, who has yet to surrender a goal in this tournament. Spain is a team that has a ton of confidence, as they have won 15 straight matches and have not been defeated in 35 matches. Spain used to be seen as a team that could not win the big game, but they won the 2008 European Championships and they are now the number one ranked team in the world according to FIFA rankings.
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The Americans are huge underdogs in this match and with good reason. Spain has a dynamic offense and a stingy defense and the USA only had one good game in group play in their win over Egypt, who are only ranked 40th in the world. USA will be more then happy with a draw and take their chances in a shootout and they will definitely play a defensive game on Wednesday night.
Spain is HUGE favorites in this game posted at 1.25 with the USA posted at 12 with a draw at 6.
USA Recent Form:
6/21/2009 USA 3 Egypt 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/18/2009 Brazil 3 USA 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/15/2009 Italy 3 USA 1 (Confederations Cup)
6/4/2009 USA 2 Honduras 1 (WC Qualifier)
6/4/2009 Costa Rica 3 USA 1 (WC Qualifier)
Spain Recent Form:
6/20/2009 Spain 2 South Africa 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/17/2009 Spain 1 Iraq 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/14/2009 Spain 5 New Zealand 0 (Confederations Cup)
6/9/2009 Azerbaijan 0 Spain 6 (Friendly)
4/1/2009 Turkey 1 Spain 2 (WC Qualifying)
Both teams are relatively healthy for this game, but Andrs Iniesta will not play for Spain. That is good for the USA, as the fewer players that can find the back of the net for Spain the better.
Bob Bradley and his American team will have to play a near perfect game to pull off the big upset on Wednesday night.
Sure, Spain was not in a tough group, but in their 3 games they scored 8 goals and gave up 0.
The Americans will play a defensive game, but Landon Donovan will play up front and he will be counted on to provide the offense for the US.
Spain’s defenders of Carles Puyol, Carlos Marchena, and Gerald Pique have been awesome in this Cup and they will pull up to try to give Spain some offense. The Americans have to take advantage of this and get some quick counter attacks.
USA has to get back on defense more in this game, as in the past few games for the US their flank defenders have been caught to up front allowing other teams to counter attack. That may not be hard since Bradley may not allow the flank defenders to play much offense since they will play a defensive game.
The central defenders of America, Oguchi Onyewu and Jay DeMerit, have played well in this competition and they will have to play well tonight, as Spain likes to cross the ball in from of the opponent’s net.
Onyewu is 6’3″ and he will have to use his height to head balls out of the air on the Spanish crosses.
Fernando Torres and David Villa lead Spain on offense. Torres had 3 goals in the 5-0 drubbing against New Zealand and he will have to be marked all game.
USA goalie Tim Howard will be peppered all night with shots and he has to play a stellar game for the Americans to pull off the upset.
Jason’s Pick: OK so one would seem that taking Spain is a no-brainer and I think they will win, but the USA has a ton of confidence so I only see Spain winning by 1 goal.