Germans in gear as Dutch despair | Soccer | CBC Sports

Euro CupGermans in gear as Dutch despair

Posted: Thursday, June 14, 2012 | 12:02 AM

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Wesley Sneijder from the Netherlands leaves the pitch after a Euro 2012 soccer championship Group B match against Germany in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Wednesday. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press) Wesley Sneijder from the Netherlands leaves the pitch after a Euro 2012 soccer championship Group B match against Germany in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Wednesday. (Matthias Schrader/Associated Press)

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The Group of Death is living up to its billing. Dutch heads are on the chopping block following their second successive defeat - a sheer drop from which no nation has survived in tournament history.
The Group of Death is living up to its billing. Dutch heads are on the chopping block following their second successive defeat - a sheer drop from which no nation has survived in tournament history.
 
The Netherlands could still make it but the omens are not good. Less than two years after reaching the World Cup Final itself, Holland is facing the very real possibility, if not probability, of an ignominious exit without making so much as a dent on Euro2012.
 
While few predicted the Danish disaster, we should have seen this coming. Late in 2011 Germany strolled to a 3-0 friendly victory over the Dutch - a game which highlighted Holland's defensive frailties against top class opposition. The problem resurfaced in Kharkiv, where the back line was again exposed.

Foot soldiers falter
 
It's all very well having the crown jewels going forward so as long as there is adequate insurance cover. The likes of Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and, perhaps, Wesley Sneijder could walk into most international teams but the foot soldiers must be able to keep pace.
 
Red flags were raised before a ball was kicked. Concerns over the Dutch defence were a hot topic in the lead up to the tournament and the disjointed performance against Germany did nothing to dispel those fears.    
 
Give Mario Gomez his due. His brace came straight out of the top drawer and, needless to say, changed the game. The Germans never seemed likely to surrender a two-goal lead though Van Persie's crisp, if belated, reply made the final stages interesting.
 
As the Netherlands contemplate an early check-out, Germany seems certain to extend its stay. It is inconceivable they won't earn the single point necessary to top Group B in the final round robin game against Denmark and glide effortlessly in the quarter-finals.

Germany building momentum

Like its luxury cars, Germany is starting to purr. The team which emerged from South Africa with much credit has clicked into gear with efficiency, discipline and a cutting edge. The front six all have creative juices embodied by Bastian Schweinsteiger whose vision led to both goals.

On the flanks Thomas Muller and Lukas Podolski offer width and pace. It is a combination which will worry most full backs but these two don't just provide the ammunition. Both are proven scorers and have the confidence and ability to go for goal if the opportunity presents itself.
 
On top of all that, it is a matter of respect. Germany has earned its reverence over many decades and tournaments. It doesn't win them all, but the Germans are always a factor and it usually takes an inspired performance to beat them. Suffice to say, Germany often has the game won before kick-off.
 
And so we are down to two. At the outset my preferences lay with Spain, Holland and Germany. The Dutch have dug themselves into a hole from which there is surely no escape. Like France and Italy in 2010, this looks like being a tournament they will want to forget in a hurry.
 
Mario Gomez could have played for Spain. He has dual Spanish and German citizenship. Spain, without the injured David Villa, needs an attacking focal point. Gomez' decision to represent the country in which he was born may just be critical on Canada Day.

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