x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Euro 2012: Germany 2 Holland 1

Mario Gomez' early brace was enough for the Germans, despite a late Robin van Persie inspired fightback from the Dutch.

Germany's Mario Gomez scores the second goal.
Germany's Mario Gomez scores the second goal.

Holland are on the brink, Germany on the charge. The World Cup finalists look likely to be the Group of Death’s major casualties after back-to-back defeats. Their fiercest rivals proved their nemesis, a Mario Gomez brace adding to the sense of Dutch discontent.

Missed chances and disastrous defending have been the common denominators of a sorry campaign when supposed stars have underperformed and the back four have been both exposed and found wanting.

In contrast, Germany have laid down a marker. In overcoming first Portugal and now Holland, they have ensured they need a solitary point to qualify for the quarter-finals and suggested they can go much further. They produced an authoritative performance and were personified by Bastian Schweinsteiger, who won the midfield battle.

He was both controller and creator, playing an integral part in goals that involved each of the Bayern Munich trio of Thomas Muller, Schweinsteiger and Gomez, and in that order. The first was delightful, Schweinsteiger steering a shot into the path of Gomez, who spun and shot past Maarten Stekelenburg. Then the midfielder rolled a pass to the striker, whose rasping, rising shot, flew past the goalkeeper.

There was other proof of Germany’s incisiveness. Mesut Ozil had already clipped the foot of the post with a volley and, sandwiching Gomez’s brace, Holger Badstuber should have doubled the lead, heading straight at Stekelenburg when unmarked. It was a microcosm of Holland’s problems at the back; a squad overflowing with attacking talent has rather lower-calibre players nearer its own goal.

Yet, despite their enviable array of attacking talent, it took Holland 162 minutes and 41 attempts – including their defeat to Denmark – to find the net. Robin van Persie defeated Manuel Neuer with a blistering shot, belatedly registering after his catalogue of misses and misfortune had continue with two early chances, plus a fine effort the German goalkeeper repelled.

It was a sign of the Dutch ability, but they need to beat Portugal, hope Germany defeat Denmark and ensure their goal difference is better than either of the two sides already on three points. If not, they will beat a sorry retreat to the Netherlands.

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