Offshore drilling, Euro 2012: Germany 2, Netherlands 1

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Man of the Match: Dirk Kuyt was one touch away from a chance at an equalizer, but 23 yards from goal, he made the mistake of giving Bastian Schweinsteiger a finally stab at the ball. The 90th minute look was the Netherlands’ venture toward goal, making it apropos Schweinsteiger was allowed to snuff it out.

It takes a special performance to take a Man of the Match from somebody who scored twice, but culminating with his tackle on Huntelaar, Schweinsteiger gave it. His two assists were perfect if unspectacular – playing direct, 10-12 yard passes to Mario Gomez – but his awareness stood out. He not only knew where Gomez was, but he knew to get it to him with one touch.

After Germany had their two goal lead, he teamed with Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil to keep the game under German control. The Netherlands may have had more of the ball, but Germany’s midfield was dictating the game. At the end, Schweinsteiger was the man winning back possession, allowing to bleed out the clock.

NBC Sports: Gomez scores 2 to give Germany 2-1 win over Dutch

Packaged for takeaway:

  • The match was practically cliché. Germany imposes themselves in these types of matches, they say. Today, the Germans showed why. The execution on their two goals was simple, targeted and clinical:
    • Simple: The first goal saw basic passes go from Mats Hummels to Thomas Muller to Schweinsteiger to Mario Gomez. The second was Manuel Neuer to Gomez to Mesut Ozil to Schweinsteiger and back to Gomez. Each sequence was a long pass played back and then middle before finding the striker between defenders. None of the passes were anything you or I couldn’t execute.
    • Targeted: The Netherlands’ left side of defense was a problem. Germany was ruthless about going after it. Both goals were built though that side.
    • Clinical: Mario Gomez’s finishing was very great. The touch he took to turn onto the first goal was more graceful than we’ve come to expect from the Bayern target man, with the second goal barely nestling inside Maarten Stekelenburg’s right post.
  • The easy with which the Germans took apart the Dutch was in part Bert van Marwijk’s doing. There was no pressure in Germany’s half, so Mats Hummels had no trouble picking out Thomas Müller in the build up to the first goal. In the second half, Hummels was at one time allowed to dribble through the Dutch defense and force a save from Stekelenburg.
  • The Dutch had their plan, too. They seemed intent on targeting Jerome Boateng, with many of their attempts to connect with Robin van Persie going into the left channel or wider. Their goal came from that side, though it was Mats Hummels, losing van Persie as the striker turned in, that was culpable.
  • It was another mixed day for van Persie, His finish on the goal was great, but a blown chance in the sixth minute got his day off to a bad start. After redirecting that a chipped over the defense directly to Manuel Neuer, van Persie seemed to rush some chances. In the second half, with Klass-Jan Huntelaar on, he looked better, but this has still been a trying tournament for a man of whom so much was expected.
  • The Ozil-Sami Khedira-Schweinsteiger trio dominated play when they wanted, calmly absorbed pressure when they didn’t. The Netherlands’ starting midfield duo, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong, were AWOL. Each goal was the type you try to guard against by playing an extra man in front of the defense. “These two will prevent those easy passes from being played through our line.” Turns out, they won’t.
  • How can a team aspiring to win this tournament come into the competition with that left side of defense? Jetro Willems, the 18-year-old from PSV with barely a season’s experience at club level, is starting for the Dutch, while Joris Mathijsen, in today for Ron Vlaar, is coming off a terrible season at Malaga. Willems is an injury replacement, but there are really no better left backs in the Netherlands? One year as an 18-year-old in the Dutch league said “we should be comfortable with him for six games in Europe’s biggest national tournament”?
  • Smart pundits noted this might be a problem, but not me. I assumed that the defense wouldn’t be much worse than the team that made the finals in South Africa. Clearly, I was wrong. And now, I’m bitter.
  • Arjen Robben had a difficult first half, but in the second, but he and Wesley Sneijder started to have an impact from wide positions. That’s why it was so curious that, with his last substitution, Bert van Marwijk elected to take Robben off for Dirk Kuyt. It’s not like the Dutch needed a goal or anything, right?
  • Robben must have felt the same way, because instead of going to meet Kuyt to complete a traditional substitution, he stepped off the pitch at the far side and slowly walked around to the Dutch bench, applauding to the supporters periodically as he strolled. When he got to the bench, he ripped off his kit and sat outside the dugout.
  • To me, the craziest thing about this day is the Dutch not only still have a chance to advance, but it’s not a remote one. Thanks to Portugal’s third goal, the Netherlands are still alive, and if they post a lopsided result in the third group game (two-or-more goal victory), they will get through, provided Germany beats Denmark.
  • That’s obviously not a given. Germany wins the group with a draw, though a loss opens the door to them finishing third. There have been so many times we’ve seen this scenario end in a draw, but it goes without saying that anything can happen.

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 5

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We’re a full month into the 2018-19 Premier League season, which means we can begin — yes, only just now — to make more definitive statements about where everyone is headed for the season.

Not much change at the top of the power rankings this week, but plenty of movement in the middle and bottom thirds…

[ MORE: UCL preview: Real, Ronaldo debut apart; Man City, United, too ]

20. Burnley — Bottom of the table after four straight losses, Sean Dyche worked an unthinkable miracle last season but he might not survive another month of results like the one just completed.
Last week: 16
Season high: 15
Season low: 20

19. Cardiff City — Nailed-on favorites to be relegated before the season started, the Bluebirds haven’t shown anything to suggest they’ve got a trick up their sleeves. Their stay in the PL will, however, be lucrative, if brief.
Last week: 19
Season high: 19
Season low: 20

18. Huddersfield Town — Teams wishing to avoid relegation must beat other sides in the relegation battle — Cardiff, for example. The Terriers couldn’t do it a couple weeks ago, followed by five more points dropped against Everton and Crystal Palace.
Last week: 18
Season high: 18
Season low: 20

17. Newcastle United — Three straight losses is better than four, but not by much. The Magpies get something of a free pass for facing Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal in consecutive games. The fact they lost each game by one goal (all 2-1)? Encouraging.
Last week: 17
Season high: 13
Season low: 18

16. West Ham United — The four teams below them in these rankings — and the real-life table — have been so bad that all the Hammers needed was one win to move from last place (with zero points) to outside the relegation zone.
Last week: 20
Season high: 16
Season low: 20

15. Fulham — Lost 3-0 to Man City this weekend. They’re supposed to lose 3-0 to Man City.
Last week: 14
Season high: 11
Season low: 17

14. Southampton — Only six goals conceded in five games is a top-six defensive record that could keep Saints up on its own. Only six goals scored, however, is firmly in the bottom half — dull and painful to watch, at best; a half-dozen defensive mistakes from relegation, at worst.
Last week: 13
Season high: 13
Season low: 17

13. Leicester City — Hammered by Bournemouth at the weekend, the Foxes undid any goodwill they might have accumulated in a narrow defeat to Liverpool pre-international break. Plus side: games against the Reds and Man United out of the way.
Last week: 10
Season high: 8
Season low: 13

12. Brighton and Hove Albion — Back-to-back draws, against Fulham and Southampton, in games Chris Hughton would have targeted as winnable fixtures.
Last week: 11
Season high: 9
Season low: 19

11. Crystal Palace — Snapped a three-game losing skid by beating Huddersfield, now the Eagles need to avoid being the lesser side against which Newcastle breaks out of its early-season slumber.
Last week: 15
Season high: 6
Season low: 13

10. Everton — Sure, half the team was out due to injuries or suspension, but losing 3-1 to the last remaining team without a point remains an unavoidably bad look.
Last week: 6
Season high: 5
Season low: 11

9. Wolves — After spending wildly in the summer, Wolves took just two points from their first two games in the PL. Back-to-back wins, against West Ham and Burnley, have shown they’re perhaps a cut above the relegation battle.
Last week: 8
Season high: 8
Season low: 13

8. Spurs — Back-to-back defeats, against Watford and Liverpool, and Mauricio Pochettino‘s side is outside the top-four (and -five) just like that. Harry Kane isn’t scoring (just two goals this season — zero in the defeats), and no one else has stepped up to fill the void.
Last week: 5
Season high: 3
Season low: 8

7. Manchester United — Wins over Burnley and Watford are nice, but let us know when they’re ready to handle a giant like Brighton.
Last week: 9
Season high: 4
Season low: 14

6. Bournemouth — Pop quiz: Who’s the fifth-place side in the PL table right now, ahead of both Spurs and Arsenal? ‘Tis the Cherries.
Last week: 12
Season high: 7
Season low: 12

5. Watford — No longer perfect, no longer unbeaten. The hard work begins now, with a winnable trip to Fulham. The fall from fourth — where the Hornets currently reside — could be quick.
Last week: 4
Season high: 4
Season low: 7

4. Arsenal — The only non-top-two team with three straight wins. The problem is, of course, the season-opening losses to Man City and Chelsea have them sitting seventh nonetheless.
Last week: 7
Season high: 4
Season low: 9

3. Chelsea — Pop quiz no. 2: Who’s the current PL leaders? ‘Tis the Blues, so why aren’t they no. 1 (or 2) on this list? Does Arsenal count as a signature win in their second week under a new manager? Probably not, so we are in a holding pattern until they take on Liverpool in 10 days.
Last week: 3
Season high: 3
Season low: 4

2. Man City — It still feels blasphemous to not have them no. 1, but Pep Guardiola knows it’s not necessary to blow the doors off everyone in August and September in order to win the title; that it’s more important to pace yourself for the whole of 10 months, if you want to win the Champions League.
Last week: 2
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

1. Liverpool — Speaking of signature wins, going away to Spurs and completely controlling and dominating the game was a surefire signal of intent from Jurgen Klopp‘s men. What they did against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday doesn’t necessarily count for these rankings, but it shows they’ve got staying power.
Last week: 1
Season high: 1
Season low: 2

Juve’s Douglas Costa banned 4 games for spitting

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus winger Douglas Costa has been banned for four Serie A matches after a spitting incident on Sunday.

[ MORE: UCL roundup: USMNT’s Pulisic, McKennie shine ]

The Brazil international was sent off near the end of Juventus’ 2-1 win over Sassuolo after he spat at midfielder Federico Di Francesco. Costa had also raised an elbow at the same player and attempted a head-butt.

The Italian soccer federation announced his ban Tuesday, with the winger set to miss matches against Frosinone, Bologna, Napoli and Udinese.

[ MORE: UCL preview: Real, Ronaldo debut apart; Man City, United, too ]

Costa has already apologized for the incident on social media — via Google Translate:

“I would like to apologize to all of Juventus fans for this misleading reaction in today’s game. I also apologize to my teammates, who are always with me in good times and bad. I was ugly, I am aware and I apologize to everyone for it. I make it clear that this isolated attitude does not match what I have always shown in my career.”

Zlatan gets Thor treatment for game day giveaway (video)

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There’s something about Zlatan Ibrahimovic saying, “This is the new Greek god. This is Zlatan,” that leads you to believe it’s not the first time he’s had this thought.

[ RECAP: Liverpool 3-2 PSG ]

Ibrahimovic is the subject of a classic Costacos Brothers poster to be given away at the LA Galaxy’s Sept. 29 match against Vancouver.

If you’re not familiar with the Costacos Brothers, well, your bedroom growing up really missed out.

From “Kelly’s Heroes” to “Czechmate,” the Costacos were trusted with plenty of creative license in a bygone era.

Bygone for everyone besides Zlatan. Bit jealous we can’t get our hands on one.

Pulisic “a bit lucky” on 20th birthday match-winning goal

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BRUGES, Belgium (AP) Christian Pulisic celebrated his 20th birthday by scoring on his return from injury to give Borussia Dortmund a late 1-0 win at Club Brugge in the Champions League on Tuesday.

“It was great to come back after injury to and to be back with the team,” said Pulisic, who also made his 100th appearance for the club.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

The American, who hadn’t played since Aug. 26 due to muscular problems, came on with around 20 minutes remaining and scored in the 85th when Matej Mitrovic’s attempted clearance rebounded off his shin and looped in over Brugge goalkeeper Karlo Letica.

“It was a bit lucky but I’ll take it on my birthday,” said Pulisic, who had missed two Bundesliga games for Dortmund and the U.S. friendlies against Brazil and Mexico.

“I just saw the ball getting played through. I think the defender tried clearing it but I was in the right spot at the right time,” Pulisic said. “I think we deserved the goal at the time.”

Pulisic, who also netted against Benfica in March last year, is only the third American to score multiple Champions League goals after Fabian Johnson – who had two for Borussia Moenchengladbach – and DaMarcus Beasley, who scored six in stints at PSV Eindhoven and Rangers.

“I’m just going to enjoy the rest of the night with the team,” Pulisic said of his birthday celebrations.

Mario Goetze made a rare start for Dortmund but was unable to provide much of a spark against the spirited hosts. Leticia saved his effort in the first half. It was Dortmund’s only shot on target apart from Pulisic’s goal.

“It was a lucky win, a dirty win,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc said.

The win means Dortmund has already bettered its Champions League campaign from last season, when it earned just two points in six group games.

Brugge was back in the Champions League group stage after a one-year absence and created the better chances.

In the other Group A game, Atletico Madrid beat Monaco 2-1.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports