Likewise, there are some players who -- upon viewing them -- perform so radically different than their reputations that it makes fans wonder whether their careers were made up. And Mario Gomez was always one of them: His resemblance to George McFly from the
Somewhere along the line, however, Gomez and Petr Cech swapped form. Cech was imperious in Munich as Chelsea won the Champions League, but he has been error-ridden for the Czech Republic thus far in Euro 2012. Gomez, on the other hand, has been sensational. His headed winner against Portugal in the first game was good, but his two goals against the Netherlands were even better. For the first, he turned superbly onto Bastian Schweinsteiger's through-ball before sliding a slightly fortuitous finish past Maarten Stekelenburg. Yes, the shot went in off the keeper's shin, but the turn earned him some luck. The second was even more impressive, as Gomez ran onto another Schweinsteiger pass and took advantage of Stekelenburg going down a touch early to lash his shot high and just inside the far post.
Not anymore. With Mesut Ozil dragging the pair back and forth and creating space, Bastian Schweinsteiger was able to find unfathomable amounts of space in what Ottmar Hitzfeld terms "the red zone", that is, the central area 10-20 yards outside the 18-yard box. It is the space that defenses must protect above all else -- Roy Hodgson has based a career on it -- and yet Schweinsteiger merrily picnicked there in the first half, having time to measure his through-balls to Gomez.
Whatever other problems plague the Dutch -- they may have moved away from the total-footballing 4-3-3 philosophy, but the traditional sulking, backbiting and infighting remain as popular as ever -- this basic structural error undermines everything else.
The makeup of the back four is slightly odd given that three of the four players compete for the same club, but two of them are slotted in different positions. Jerome Boateng is usually a center back for Bayern, but he plays at right back for Germany. Meanwhile, the Bayern right back, Philipp Lahm, plays at left back on the national squad. Only Holger Badstuber plays in his equivalent club position.
Just as problematic is the way that the two holding players played -- but that was the gamble Low took. By having Ozil drag the Dutch holders with Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira moving into the space, Germany enhanced its attacking threat significantly. The downside, however, was that when the Dutch broke, the back four were left exposed. The area a holder should protect, the red zone, was precisely the space into which Robin van Persie accelerated before lashing in the sole Dutch goal. On this occasion the gamble worked. But future opponents could capitalize on that back-four vulnerability.