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Real Madrid are top of the class

Power Rankings about an hour ago
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Jul 6, 2010

Cup drama can be costly -- to some viewers

Our World Cup break in Major League Soccer is over, and playing in games while the tournament is going on and only watching on television in the morning is much harder than I thought it would be.

I enjoy watching the games, but for 12 years I played in either the Euros or the World Cup every two years. It's really strange not to be playing, but I've retired from international football and that's just how it is.

I think it's important, especially for young players, to watch these games because they feature the best players in the world. You can learn a lot from watching them play.

The World Cup is something that I really enjoy watching, but with our training schedule it can sometimes be tight. We have to be at the training facility 45 minutes before practice or we get fined. When the Netherlands played Brazil, I was three minutes late because there was no way I was going to leave my house before that game was over. I willingly took that fine!

Holland may have been a bit lucky against Brazil, scoring on an own goal and a Wesley Sneijder header -- and it's not every day that that happens! Sneijder is like me that way. (Neither of us heads the ball.) I had been looking forward to him and his teammates playing Brazil, but it's fun to watch them play against any team.

In Uruguay, history briefly came back for a country that had had so much success, winning the World Cup in 1930 and 1950. But I felt extremely sorry for Ghana in the quarterfinal. Ghana should have scored, but a handball by Uruguay's Luis Suarez took it away. It's horrible, but it's part of the game. If Suarez followed the rules, Uruguay would have gone home then. He saved a goal and kept his country alive.

For Ghana to miss the penalty shot and then ultimately go out on penalties was just horrible. When people say that soccer is just a game, comments like that make me laugh. I hope Asamoah Gyan recovers from the missed penalty, because he had a great World Cup run.

Spain was my favorite before the tournament, but hasn't really played as well as most people expected. At the same time, we're now in the semifinals. In the quarterfinals, though it wasn't its best game, Spain dominated (72 percent of the possession), which is tough to do in a last-eight match.

Teams bunker in against Spain and hope for a counterattack, but it's not always that easy. If you miss on your marking, the Spanish players will take advantage and then you're done for. They will keep the ball and you won't touch it.

Germany is a good team, though, and has played the best of any team in this World Cup. Maybe it won't settle for just bunkering in.

Germany defends well and can also counterattack. What's amazing is that Miroslav Klose hardly scored at all for Bayern Munich last season, and yet all of a sudden he has four goals in the World Cup and can become the most prolific goal scorer in the competition's history.

It's going to be two different styles that will meet and it's going to be interesting to see who wins. It's a big test for both teams.

We'll see how it plays out. I can't wait for the final on Sunday.

Freddie Ljungberg is a midfielder with the Seattle Sounders. He also formerly played for Arsenal in the English Premiership and the Swedish national team. He writes daily at his own blog, www.freddie.speaksup.com.

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