Politicians go head-to-head in World Cup semi final

Arguments between Germany and Spain on how to tackle's Europe economic problems has provided added zest to Wednesday's

    The summer sun is beating down on Madrilenos as they prepare to watch Wednesday's World Cup semi-final with Germany in Durban.

    The largest crowd for tonight's game is expected outside Real Madrid's Bearnabeu stadium, where a giant screen has been erected.

    Otherwise one of the capital's plentiful small bars is the place to see the game.

    Locals are promising that if the Spaniards make it to their first World Cup final the streets will be full come night time.

    As deliberations over who is to start the game continue to occupy fan's thoughts – with doubts over the fitness of Cesc Fabregas and misfiring Fernando Torres – interest is also being focused on Jose Luis Rodrieguez Zapatero, the prime minister of Spain.

    Zapatero's close attention to the World Cup has led to him being labelled the new minister of sport and questions of whether he will start on the bench.

    The prime minister of course is not the first politician to attempt to align himself with national sporting success.

    But arguments with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, over how to tackle Europe's economic problems are providing added significance to the head-to-head between the two nations.

    While previously free-spending Spain is mired in debt, austere Germany is the nation expected to prop up its EU sisters, although it has been reluctant to do so.

    Merkel has viewed Zapatero's actions on Spain’s economic crisis as indecisive and not stringent enough.

    Zapatero's attempts at easing the tension, with reassurances over the economy at a meeting in the German city of Hannover in March, appear to have been unsuccessful.

    While Spain has tried to rectify its image as not another Greece, Germany has warned of the possibility of contagion of the latter's economic difficulties.

    With little indication of an economic remedy, one of the two leaders may find some solace with a victory in tonight's game.

    Who will win out – the instinctive style and laissez-faire philosophy of Spain, or the structured and industrious attitude of Germany?

    Of course, I'm talking about the football, not the politicians, here.

    Follow Rhodri Davies on Twitter: @rhodrirdavies


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