Germany got off to a very slow start against the Netherlands on Wednesday night. Joachim Löw looked worried on the sidelines as the Netherlands kept the ball with ease and created scoring chances. This went on for the first 20 minutes of the game. When things changed, they changed dramatically.
The last 25 minutes of the first half couldn't have been more of a different story than the first 20. The Netherlands' midfield and defense absolutely fell apart as Bastian Schweinstieger and Mario Gomez took over the game, creating two goals with relative ease. Because of the result in Wednesday's early game, the Netherlands cannot be entirely eliminated with a loss in this game, but they're about to enter a very dire situation unless they can do a complete 180 in the second half. They deservedly trail Germany 2-0 at halftime.
Robin van Persie almost capitalized on Germany's bad start on a couple of occasions, but just like it did in the Netherlands' first match of the tournament, his finishing let him down. On both a Mark van Bommel long ball in the 6th minute and an Arjen Robben cross in the 10th minute, he put weak shots right into Manuel Neuer.
Germany's opener came 23 minutes into the match, and even though the finish was beautiful, it's hard not to focus more on Holland's failings than Germany's successes on the goal. Schweinsteiger was somehow completely unchallenged in midfield when he played a through ball into the feet of Gomes, who was kept onside by a slacking Gregory Van Der Wiel. Gomez made a beautiful turn with the ball and smacked it into the net with his second touch, instantly turning the tables on a Netherlands team that had looked like the better side until that point.
Maarten Stekelenberg made an unbelievable save in the 37th minute on a header by Holger Badstuber, but once again, the chance was downright gifted to Germany. John Heitinga completely fell asleep on a set piece and allowed Badstuber to run right by him. Badstuber had an open header and hit it well, but close enough to Stekelenberg that the Dutch keeper was able to make a save.
The Netherlands could have made Germany regret not taking that chance, but they couldn't get their defense together quickly enough to make that happen. Less than one minute later, the Dutch defense absolutely fell apart again. For the second time, Schweinsteiger set up Gomez with a great pass on the ground. For the second time, no one cut off the supply and no one closed down Schweinsteiger in midfield. If that wasn't bad enough, Stekelenberg went to ground before Gomez even took his shot, allowing the German striker to score easily.
If anyone has the answers for Holland, ring up Bert van Marwijk. He can't make his country produce quality central defenders during the halftime interval, but surely there's someone on the bench that can change this game. Holland look terrible. What they're doing isn't working.