I hereby have the pleasure of saying: I knew it! The two holding midfielders—one of whom, Van Bommel, is just lazy these days, on top of being mean—did not work. Schweinsteiger and Khedira and Özil tore them apart in the first half. Schweinsteiger was great, but he had so much time and space that it was hard not to have a great game. De Jong and Van Bommel were always caught in the middle, between the three German midfielders and their own defense. If they pressed high, the Germans would have space behind them, and Khedira had a few forward runs to see if they’d track him. If the Dutch midfielders dropped back, Schweinsteiger had even more space. They were mainly confused, not knowing where to go. Look at Van Bommel for the second German goal. The Dutch system was slow and predictable, which even Van Marwijk had to realize after the half-time switch. The Germans were still in charge most of the time, but the Dutch at least put up a fight in the second half. It is still mathematically possible for the Dutch to go to the knock-out stage, but they would have to beat Portugal. They will not be able to do that with De Jong and Van Bommel in the midfield. Van Marwijk will have to abandon the system that took them to the World Cup finals.
Aleksander Hemon is the author, most recently, of The Book of My Lives and The Matters of Life, Death, and More: Writing on Soccer.