Expert analysis of the events in Poland and Ukraine
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Some things we noticed during Holland v Germany last night:
The Dutch were on top during the first 15 minutes, with more possession leading to roughly 50% more passes, of varying length: some short but some over the top as they probed the opposition's central defence. For their part, the Germans seemed content to knock around mainly 10- to 15-yard passes. It would prove wise.
By the half-hour mark, that division of styles was becoming clearer. The pass-and-move Germans rarely tried to take on their man, whereas the Dutch forwards frequently tried to dribble – and usually failed.
As if to prove the century-old idea that crisp passing will overcome direct dribbling, Germany's two first-half goals both came through Mario Gomez after being supplied by Bastian Schweinsteiger. Intriguingly, as @TotalFootballFC (Stats Zone app creator Colm McMullan) noted using the app's Pass Combinations facility, those were the only two (first-half) occasions on which 'Schweini' found the George McFly-a-like.
As the world took a half-time breather, FourFourTwo's editor David Hall (@FourFourTwoEd, funnily enough) weighed in by noting that for all his defensive frailties, teenage Dutch left-back had a 100% pass completion rate…
…while FourFourTwo.com editor Gary Parkinson (@GaryParkinson) noted that on the other hand, the Germans were diligently attempting more than four time as many tackles.
New York Red Bulls youth coach José Figuera (@JoseCoaching) was full of praise for Mesut Ozil's attacking-third passes, all of which had been successful.
For the second half, the desperate Dutch brought on Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for Mark van Bommel and Ibrahim Afellay. It worked, to an extent, as Robin van Persie got a goal back – partly because the accuracy of the Dutch passing in the attacking third improved sharply, as @TotalFootballFC noted by comparing it to the first half.
Germany held on to win, and @TotalFootballFC applauded the excellent all-round play of Mats Hummels, Philipp Lahm…
…and Schweinsteiger, the man described by FourFourTwo alumnus @HenryWinter as "Almost Roy Keane in lederhosen". And there's no following that.
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