The Netherlands and Germany played out a five-goal thriller in Group B after the Germans fought back from two goals down, only to concede a third in the last minute of the match. This game featured excellent movement and sublime technique from some of Europe’s best young talents. Here are five quick observations…
Netherlands (4-2-3-1): Zoet; Rhijn, Vrij, Indi, Blind; Ginkel, Strootman; Wijnaldum, Maher, John; De Jong
Germany (4-2-3-1): Leno; Sorg, Ginter, Thesker, Jantschke; Rode, Rudy; Hermann, Holtby, Mlapa; Lasogga
Dutch front three
The Netherlands lined up in a very bold 4-2-3-1 formation with wingers Ola John and Georgino Wijnaldum both very high up the pitch. John on the left wing was particularly impressive in the opening minutes and he showed great willingness to attack Oliver Sorg the German right back. Every time John received the ball his first thought was to attack his marker and cut inside. Another important player in Dutch attacks was Luuk De Jong who led the line superbly. His movement in the first half was very intelligent. He dragged the two German centre backs into uncomfortable areas by moving into the channels and then bringing others into play (see diagram above).
Dealing with Holtby
The Dutch were incredibly fluid in the first half and some of their slick, possession football was superb, but they weren’t just better with the ball, but they worked harder without it too. The Netherlands pressing was very intense whereas Germany were far more cautious and happy to sit back and keep their shape. This allowed the Netherlands to settle into the game and as a result they dominated the first half. In central midfield Kevin Strootman and Marco Van Ginkel took turns at joining the Dutch attacks, but were still able to minimise the threat of Germany’s key player, Lewis Holtby. Strootman made it his personal mission to track the German and he followed his man superbly, allowing Van Ginkel to turn his attention to the forward runs of Sebastien Rudy from central midfield. Thanks to goals from Adam Maher and Wijnaldum, the Dutch deservedly went in at half time with a two goal lead.
At half time Kevin Volland was brought on for Germany and he made an immediate impact after playing in Holtby who was subsequently fouled by Jeroen Zoet in the Dutch goal, resulting in a German penalty which Rudy happily converted. Patrick Hermann came into the game more from the right wing and Holtby became the games liveliest player, benefitting from his team mates keeping the ball better and also from finding spaces that hadn’t been available in the first half. Germany nearly equalised through Volland but his ferocious effort rattled off the crossbar.
Space for Maher
The star player for the Netherlands tonight was Maher in the hole. Whenever the Dutch attacked, his passing and vision were key in linking the midfield with the front three and he more than deserved his first half goal. With so many creative players on show, it was Maher who stood out most because of his positioning and adventurous use of the ball. Germany pushed more men forward in the second half so he now had more space to drift into and Maher had a lot of joy when he moved into the gaps either side of De Jong.
Last minute winner
After changing to a 4-4-2, Holtby created space on the edge of the Dutch box and fired in a shot on 81 minutes to level the score, but the scoring wasn’t over as, substitute Leroy Fer gave the Netherlands a dramatic winner from a corner in the 90th minute. This was a great game of football played at a good tempo with plenty of excellent movement and intricate passing. Maher, John and De Jong all impressed for the Dutch, with Holtby and Hermann looking very good for the Germans in the second half.
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