Germany vs. Italy
Italy and Germany played brilliantly in their run up matches to this game. I hope we see that Italy, because they had been pretty AWOL thus far in the Cup.
I hate to say it, but the quality of officiating is going to be huge. Italy will test the referee early, and if the Germans sense that diving is going to work, they can dive like champions, too. They will sail through the air, flailing about, like an Italian striker in the box, who got breathed on too hard. Hopefully, with it being a fucking semi-final and all, we'll see really, really good officiating, in which case, these teams will work it out legimitately.
Which isn't to say you won't seem some hard hits, and some yellow cards. You probably will. You may see one for diving, if the officials are really on their game.
But let's assume the match is officiated well, as it becomes far too complex to analyze otherwise. The German strengths have emerged as being Lahm, up the left side, out of the back. Klose, killer in the air, 10 goals in two finals now, almost all of them out of the air. Podoloski, who may be distracted by the fact that Paris Hilton has announced she wants to fuck him. He may already have 3 STDs. Bastien Schweinsteiger (literally, "Pig-Climber") has emerged as a dangerous, skillful midfielder to go along with relatively quiet Michael Ballack, who hasn't been playing poorly, like say the entire center midfield of England did. He's been effective, he's just been content to key attacks rather than finish them. He's a fitter, no-less-maligned-for-no-good reason Beckham. He may step up in this match, or he may see fit to continue to play the role he has. Ballack hasn't been the key to the German attack--there has been no key, really. They have people scoring from all over the place. Sure, Klose has 5 goals, but he scores on good service, and he has scored in 5 times in 3 games, and he's played more than 3 games. So he has been shut out, too. He's dangerous, but he won't run at you and beat you. Italy needs to shut down the guys who make Klose dangerous--Lahm, Ballack, Schweinsteiger, et al.
Lehmann is a badass keeper. If Italy wants to feel good about their chances, they should try to win this game before PK's. Of course, with Buffon in the net for the Italians, the Germans should feel the same way.
The Italian defense hasn't looked impreganable, as it has in years past, but the fact is, they don't get scored on much. They gave an own goal to the US, and that's about it. No Maldini? No problem, apparently.
At the same time, this Italian squad was supposed to represent a new attacking Italy, and it made sense, because they have like 6 world class strikers. But you can't play all six, and if you don't play the right guy, you might get crucified (see Argentina and Messi) for your lack of risk-taking. Obviously, Toni will be up front. Who will join him? How effective will the Italian midfield be now that they are finally faced with a midfield as talented as theirs?
What I'm about to say is going to sound like a complete cop-out, so let me say that I don't think that it is. Of course, I think my farts don't stink that bad, and that yours are murderous. Yeah, I'm talking to you, person who's ass is an affront to Nature. You know who you are. Anyway..I think this game could be a 0-0 draw, or a completely wide-open affair, and could go possibly as high as 3-3 in regulation.
But here's where I don't cop out, where I don't shiv, Rob. I'm Balls Nasty, Bob. (kudos to those who got that reference. Go buy the book, bitches.) Regardless of the number of scores, the game will be close, down to the wire. I see one of the four things that represent a close game:
1. A very controversial goal
2. A goal late in stoppage time
3. An absolute thunderclap in extra time.
A lot of those could be mixed and matched to make for a super controversial ending. Like say, a very controversial goal, late in extra time that forces PK's.
But I see those four things as being the decisive things.
Controversial goal helps the Germans--they are home. A goal late in stoppage? That could be anyone. Thunderclaps? I like Italy to do that. PK's? I like the Germans.
So, I'll say
Germany 2, Italy 2, Germany wins the PK's, which will be heartbreaking for the Italians, because they came back to tie the game twice.
That's one ballsy motherfucking prediction. If is somehow right, I'll be talking about it for years.