Saturday 26 May 2018

Dutch depend on German bailout

Holland 1 Germany 2

Duncan White

As if losing to their great rivals was not bad enough, Holland will now be subjected to the indignity of depending on them. For the first time in their history, Holland's supporters will be forced to support Germany.

They need Joachim Loew's team to beat Denmark on Sunday to retain any chance of qualifying for the knock-out round. This is not how it was supposed to play out for this hyper-talented generation.

For much of the game it was Germany playing with a style traditionally associated with those in Orange. Mario Gomez scored twice to give his team enough of a cushion to withstand a late Dutch fightback, following Robin van Persie's well-struck goal.

If Gomez was executioner, the Dutch were sentenced to defeat by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who made both goals for his Bayern Munich team-mate.

Schweinsteiger was enabled by the hard work around him. The Germans quicker, sharper more cohesive than against Portugal. Holland, by contrast, were fragmented. How they respond to this, whether the players remain behind Bert Van Marwijk could be decisive in the coming days. From the outside they appear in disarray.

With 24 minutes gone, Mats Hummels swept a pass out to Thomas Mueller on the right flank. The Bayern forward cut infield on a diagonal at pace and squared to Schweinsteiger, who threaded a pass through the middle to Gomez.

The big striker dragged the ball around with his left-foot as he spun to face goal and then slotted past Maarten Stekelenberg with his right.

The Dutch had actually dominated possession until then and Van Persie had missed two good chances, the first from Mark van Bommel's ball over the top and the second after he had been put through by Arjen Robben.

The Germans, though, had given plenty of evidence of how dangerous they were: when a Dutch clearance dropped to Mesut Ozil, the Real Madrid playmaker struck a crisp shot against the base of the post, the ball rebounding luckily to Stekelenberg.

The goal had killed the Dutch momentum and Germany started to probe their weaknesses, foremost among them 18-year-old left-back Jetro Willems.

The second goal again came from the German right flank. From a deep Manuel Neuer kick Mueller beat Willems in the air, his flick going to Gomez. The Bayern striker then worked the ball to Ozil who passed to Schweinsteiger, whose pass was perfectly weight for Gomez to strike. He hit it hard enough but the angle was tricky. Stekelenberg inexplicably went down early though and could only watch as the ball went over him and into the net.

Van Marwijk brought on Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas Jan Huntelaar for Ibrahim Afellay and Mark van Bommel but even with a more expansive line-up, when the Netherlands pressed forward, they met resolute German resistance.

Holland were not finished, though. On 73 minutes, Van Persie turned and sprinted towards the box and hit a clean, right-footed strike between Holger Badstuber's legs and past Neuer. It provoked a spirited conclusion but nothing more. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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