Germany won the classic against Holland rather comfortably, with Mario Gomez bagging a brace. With Holland the home of total football, arguably it was Germany who embodied that philosophy more, with every player responsible for and capable of everything. Holland struggle with the division between defence and attack; Van Bommel and De Jong found themselves unable to cope with the alternating runs of Schweinsteiger and Khedira as well as Özil’s fantastic movement.
Özil once again had a good game, finishing with an 89% passing accuracy and completing 2 dribbles. In the final third though is where he was most effective, completing 12/14 passes and creating 3 chances from there. It was his movement that carved open the Dutch defence though. For the first goal, he dragged De Jong all over the place before Müller made
a sprint for the box that caught Van Bommel’s attention, leaving Schweinsteiger totally free to set up Gomez. The build up to the second goal was (for the Dutch anyway) alarmingly similar. Özil lured De Jong out wide and Van Bommel was too pre-occupied waiting on a Khedira run to close down Schweinsteiger, making me wonder was De Jong delegated to handle Özil and Schweinsteiger!
Khedira and Schweinsteiger were a stark-contrast to their Dutch defensive-midfield counterparts. De Jong and Van Bommel were slow, uncomfortable on the ball and unaware to movement around them, Schweinsteiger and Khedira dominated them. Khedira finished with a 87% passing accuracy and made 2 tackles, but Schweinsteiger was back to his best after a poor game against Portugal. He finished with a remarkable 93% passing accuracy, highlighting the amount of time he was given on the ball, and he created 3 chances, 2 of which ended up assists. His range of passing was excellent and made great use of the flanks with 4 long balls out to Müller and Podolski.
Gomez took his two goals incredibly well, but that kind of finishing is what we have come to expect from him after an outstanding club season. Scoring from his first 2 shots, only his 6th and 12th touches of the ball, is exactly why Low has chosen to start him over Miroslav Klose twice now. I noted Mehmet Scholl’s criticism of the Bayern man in the last match report and it seems to have had its desired effect. Gomez was an intimidating presence on the shakey Dutch back four, pressing them when they had the ball and challenging for what he could. Scholl revealed that he spoke to Gomez and told him his words were only intended to spur him on, they had even received the backing of the Bayern president. Spur him on they certainly did, with Gomez adding a tackle and 2 interceptions to his name. Not extremely impressive, but a marked improvement on his lethargic yet effective display against Portugal. It was telling though that he was removed in favour of Klose in the latter stages, who is more willing to make sacrifices for the team and can link up a counter-attack if Germany had have created one.
Müller obviously fancied his chances against the young Willems and gave him a torrid time down the flank. Müller managed to create a chance and attempt two crosses, but it was his movement inside to link up the play that assisted in dragging De Jong out to his flank and left Willems red-faced. He was fantastic in the air, winning all 3 of his aerial duels and Schweinsteiger took advantage of this with his long-balls out to him. Podolski was very isolated out wide on the left and rarely received the ball during attacks. Lahm, however, will be very happy with his defensive contribution, helping him keep Robben quiet and nullifying Van der Wiel entirely.
I think it is safe to say that, suspensions and/or injuries aside, this back five will continue for the rest of the tournament. Dropping their high-line back to nullify Van Persie after his early threats, they settled into their rhythm and rarely looked troubled. Remarkably, between the four of them they only failed in 4 out of 16 tackles with Hummels making 5/6. Despite a nervy start, the Dortmund player had yet another dominating display in defence, making 6 interceptions and 1 block as well as his tackles to nullify the Dutch attack. He even found the time to go on a Beckenbauer-esque run, beating 2 players and ended up forcing Stekelenburg into a double save. With a 94% passing accuracy and Badstuber’s 84%, Germany can rely on building attacks from defence and I think Hummels range of passing hasn’t even been fully displayed yet.
Lahm was outstanding, completing 94% of his passes and making 2 interceptions as well as 3 tackles. Again, his passing accuracy highlights the time he had on the ball, with the Dutch wingers refusing to do any form of defending, This allowed him to get forward in the second half and complete 11/12 final-third passes, creating 1 chance. Boateng was quietly impressive again and could be missed against Denmark through his suspension. Low has a few options to replace him, with Benedikt Höwedes available for the right-back slot. He could also move Lahm across and play Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer at left-back so it will be interesting to see what choice he makes.
It is now 10 years since Holland have defeated Germany and on their respective current forms it looks like that run could go on a while yet. Holland are now relying on a Germany win against Denmark to give them any chance of qualifying which is sure to sting. If Low’s desire to achieve a 100% record in the qualifying group is any signal, I wouldn’t expect Germany to settle for a draw against Denmark. It would seem this German side are yet to hit their peak and with the likes of Özil and Podolski yet to fully impress with quality players on the bench still to be given their chance, it could be a frightening prospect for any potential opponents.
All Stats courtesy of FourFourTwo Stats Zone
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Feb 28, 2015 0