Monday, July 5, 2010




POTCHEFSTROOM, South Africa — After missing out on Spain's European Championship victory two years ago, striker David Villa will get another chance to play against Germany — this time in a World Cup semifinal.

Villa, the leading scorer among all players in South Africa with five goals, also topped Euro 2008 — with four goals. But he hurt his leg during Spain's semifinal win over Russia and missed the final, where Fernando Torres scored to beat Germany 1-0 in Vienna.

"We beat Germany two years ago and I don't think they are happy to meet us again," Villa said. "But we have to forget about that game. Without a World Cup (win), it's like we've achieved nothing."

Villa has been Spain's most reliable source of goals since his debut in 2005, and the 28-year-old forward is just one away from matching Raul Gonzalez's Spanish record of 44. "I'm happy with my five goals because they've been decisive," said Villa, Spain's all-time leading World Cup scorer with eight goals. "It's also different because when you win by a lot of goals it doesn't hold the same feeling as winning this way."

Villa's goal-scoring record is what prompted Barcelona to pay a reported $50 million to Valencia for the Asturias native, who scored 32 times in 50 games last season. His record speaks for itself: 43 goals in 63 games for Spain, and 160 goals in 258 club games over the past five seasons. "He's been very, very important for us, a key for Spain scoring a lot of goals," Torres said. "He gives us the opportunity to go forward and think about winning the World Cup."

The threat of Torres has helped Villa, who has the ability to find space between opponents' defenses to get free and score many of his goals, with either the left or right foot. But while Villa soars, Torres has struggled since returning from knee surgery and may not start against Germany on Wednesday at Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium. "He's mature, he knows exactly what football is about and he knows he has stay calm," backup goalkeeper Pepe Reina said on Monday. "He's got the confidence of the coach, his teammates. He can repeat his Euro feats and be fundamental for us."

Coach Vicente del Bosque backed Torres to play against Germany, but also said the Liverpool striker was not guaranteed to start.

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