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We at OOTB have introduced a new special feature for the U21 European Championship. Many of the players from these tournaments go onto bigger and better things in the future. With the plethora of young talent on show, we will try to compile lists of the best players from each game, to help you keep a better track of the stars of tomorrow. For more detailed Scout Reports on the best young footballers, click here.
Netherlands and Germany are by far the most talented sides in this years U21 European Championship. Both are capable of taking the trophy home. But with Spain the same group, and most likely the favourites with their experience (click here to read a Tactical Report on the best players from the Spain-Russia game), Group B was always going to be difficult. Both sides knew that they needed all three points from this game.
The match itself was a game of two halves, with the Oranje’s creative & technical talent dominating proceedings in the first half, before Germany’s well coordinated side getting back into the game in the second half. A 90th minute header settled the game, when a draw was probably a fair result.
The young PSV midfielder had an impressive outing in the hard fought win over the Germans. The Dutch team had an excellent first half, but seemed to fade away in the second half. This wasn’t the case with Strootman, as he was equally good in both halves, and his concentration and movement were consistent throughout the period of the match.
He started the game as one of the holding players, and tended to stay deeper than the other midfielders, van Hinkel and Maher. Such depth meant that he was the player who was going to start the attacks from deeper zones. The lack of pressing from Germany in the first half meant that he had a lot more space to work in, and was far more effective in bringing his team-mates into the game.
The fact that he started deep, didn’t restrict his movement, and he found the energy and space to move forward on a number of occasions. His driving runs, and passing, both long and short, were quite impressive and crucial to the Dutch attacking play, as he was often present in bright moves.
In the second half, when Germany played a lot better, and pressed much more, Strootman’s defensive abilities came to the fore. With the Dutch playing a kind of game where positions were rapidly inter-changed, his movement to cover his defenders was vital to their success. As a defender, he isn’t shy of tackling either, and his height also affords him an advantage in aerial situations.
If AC Milan really are looking at Strootman to be the player they build their midfield around, they need to look no further. The Dutchman has the potential, the skills, and the maturity to play well for such an illustrious club. He is the captain of the U21 side, and is a full international too.
Bruno Martins Indi started the game at centre back alongside the highly rated De Vrijs. However, it was Indi who took all the plaudits in this game, with a very good performance on the night, especially in the second half. In the first half, he didn’t have much to do from a defensive perspective, as Holland dominated the proceedings. The little he had was a physical battle with the German forwards, who were used as target men to hold up the ball, and he passed this test with flying colours. He was able to marshal them into the areas he wanted, and they couldn’t keep up with the physicality. In terms of his passing, he didn’t get to showcase the full range, as the likes of Strootman were always on hand to pick up the ball, but like all the other players on the team, he’s very comfortable on the ball, and has no trouble playing out from the back.
In the second half, the Germans were on the prowl, and this is when his abilities came to the fore. He displayed ghostly calm, and excellent skills as a one on one defender as well. His tackling is very good, and his physical skills like his pace and strength enable him to win most duels he participates in.
In terms of positioning, he tends to make a few mistakes sometimes, such as getting drawn to the ball very often. This may partially be due to the fact that Holland employ a game which stresses on pressing the ball at all times, and therefore such movement is required, even from a centre back.
Aerially, his height and strength mean that he always challenges, but even his heading technique is quite polished, and he doesn’t make silly mistakes.
This Dutchman is a rare one, as we dont see too many solid defenders coming from the land of Voetbal. However, he is a great asset, and if his development continues, he will be at the core of an excellent Dutch team for many years to come.
Bruno Martins Indi featured in our list of players to watch out for, click here to view the entire list.
It was hard to pick a German player to feature in this piece. Many of the players had varying performances with poor displays in the first half and improvements in the second. The likes of Sebastian Rudy, Sebastian Rode and Patrick Herrmann impressed, but the most consistent player across the park who led by example was the team captain— Lewis Holtby.
With nearly 200 senior club appearances throughout his career, Holtby is the experience man in the young U21 side. Used to playing as a free moving attacker, Holtby put in a more disciplined shift as he attempted to maintain the shape and control the game. He was an excellent feature in the center against the threatening Dutch midfield. His control in the advanced midfield position allowed Rudy and Rode to play a solid game (especially in the second half) behind him. Rudy particularly benefited from Holtby’s play, being a bright shining spark in the German side, and Rode was able to take an initiative in the latter stages as well.
The Spurs midfielder wasn’t shy with the ball at his feet and ran at the Dutch defence, in an attempt to set his attackers free. He created the most goal-scoring opportunities (2) and also took the most shots (3). He even managed to put in a defensive shift making a few tackles & interceptions in advanced areas.
Holtby seemed to have salvaged a point from an enthralling fixture, when he made an attempt from outside the box. The shot excellently went past the Dutch keeper, Zoet. It was a captain’s performance which was only undone by a late late Dutch strike.
With the Spanish side yet to be faced, and quite possibly just one spot remaining from Group B, Holtby is essential to ensure that the German don’t drop any more points.