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Robben and Dutch downed again

Even with Arjen Robben as captain, the Netherlands are struggling to recover their form: a 3-2 friendly defeat to Mexico in Amsterdam on Wednesday night means the men in orange have lost four of their five matches since finishing third at the World Cup. Robben stood in for Robin van Persie as skipper and played the full 90 minutes, providing the assist for Daley Blind (74) to double the home team’s tally after a 49th-minute Wesley Sneijder strike. However, Carlos Vela (8, 62) and Javier Hernandez (69) ensured Mexico took revenge for a 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Robben and Co at last summer’s tournament in Brazil. “We lack stability,” reflected Robben. The Dutch face Latvia in Euro 2016 qualifying on Sunday. “We have to win and then do some serious thinking over Christmas,” Arjen said.

Alonso tops passing chart

No player in Europe delivers more passes than Xabi Alonso, sports stats compiler opta has calculated. The company monitors Europe’s top five leagues (England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France). Alonso comfortably tops the ranking with 115.8 passes per match. Bayern’s world and European champion leads from Marco Verratti (93.3 / Paris Saint-Germain), Daniele de Rossi (92.7 / AS Roma), Thiago Motta (91.8 / Paris Saint-Germain) and. Yaya Touré (87.5 / Manchester City).

Gaudino makes Germany U-19 debut

Gianluca Gaudino has made his first appearance for Germany at U-19 level. The FCB youngster came on as a half-time sub in his team’s 2-0 defeat to Spain on Thursday afternoon at the start of an invitation tournament in Greece. The other two FCB youths in the Germany squad also featured in the contest at Katerini Municipal Stadium: Sinan Kurt played 80 minutes and Marco Hingerl the full 90. Spain’s goals were scored by Marco Asensio Willemsen (53) and Adrian Marin Gomez (56), with the north Europeans finishing a man down following Timo Werner’s 81st-minute dismissal. The Germans now play the hosts on Saturday.