The Group G opener couldn’t have been a bigger match than this. Okay, it could’ve, but wasn’t. Germany vs Portugal. Thomas Muller vs Cristiano Ronaldo. Cristiano Ronaldo had the chance to prove himself at the biggest stage and Germany had to show that they were no pushovers, and had to tell the world that they were not an overrated team, like a certain Mediterranean country. Germany named 4 centre backs in their line up and we all were wondering what Joachim Low’s tactics would be. With Portugal having won only 1 of the last 10 encounters between these two giants, the odds were stacked against Paulo Bento’s men. What followed at Salvador, was astonishing.
The scoreline at full time read Germany 4-0 Portugal and a desolate Cristiano Ronaldo was seen shaking his head in disbelief, while Philipp Lahm and Co. were jubilant in their celebrations. It was all about Thomas Muller, who took home the match ball and got Pepe sent off.
The game started at a good pace, with Germany dictating play as expected, and the tempo was really good. Cristiano Ronaldo looked sharp in the first tens minutes or so and then it began. Mario Gotze wriggled past Joao Pereira and was hauled down in the penalty box. Thomas Muller started where he had left off and scored, claiming another World Cup goal. It was 1-0 to Germany and it was a nightmarish start for Paulo Bento. But it would go from bad to worse for Portugal. Just before 30 minutes of the game were played, striker Hugo Almeida limped off, and he was replaced by Eder. Then, Mats Hummels of Borussia Dortmund, made it 2-0 with a towering header from a corner. There was very little that Rui Patricio could do. Then came the biggest talking point of the game. Pepe got himself sent off for nothing but sheer stupidity. While jostling for the ball with Muller, he pushed him down and after an exchange of words, he “headbutted” the German talisman right in front of the referee. That kind of stupidity send you for early showers mate and this was no different. Portugal now had to play some 50 minutes with a man less, and the opposition was Germany. Superb. Just before halftime, Germany capitalized on yet another defensive error, and Toni Kroos’ ball found Thomas “Goal Machine” Muller and a low shot into the corner, and the score was 3-0. Portugal had absolutely nothing to show for themselves and the game was already over. It was just a matter of whether Germany would ease off or decide to demolish Portugal entirely.
The second half began the same way, with Germany controlling play and Sami Khedira and Mesut Ozil were running riot on the right flank. It took some stopping and Portugal put bodies in front of every shot in order to save their blushes. Tireless running by Ozil and Boateng, but no rewards. There was another talking point in the game, when Eder was brought down by a very late Mats Hummels challenge in the box and the referee chose to ignore it entirely. It was a stonewall penalty, and we cannot believe how it wasn’t given. Cristiano Ronaldo was lucky not to be sent off as his appeals for a penalty almost led to him doing a Pepe on the referee. That was pretty much the only time we saw him in the half. Portugal had limited chances, and were stopped by a stern German defence every time. Injury struck again as Fabio Coentrao was stretched off after he pulled his groin. He had looked like Portugal’s best player, but nonetheless it was a shame. Even goalscorer Mats Hummels was taken off a precaution after he scraped his knee. But there was more for Germany to cheer as Rui Patricio spilled a routine Andre Schurrle cross only for Muller to score the first hat trick of the tournament and of his international career, what a way to celebrate your 50th international appearance. Germany saw off the game with some confidence and their victory was thoroughly deserved. It would be safe to say, Germany outran and outplayed Portugal entirely. The difference between the two teams could be summed up this way – Every time Germany had the ball, they looked for a white shirt. Every time Portugal got the ball, they looked for Ronaldo.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. had a very bad game and now they face an uphill task, in order to qualify to the next round. If Portugal do want to qualify, they will have to depend on their captain Cristiano Ronaldo, who disappointed in this game. Paulo Bento will need to discipline his defence also, who were dismantled by Germany. But with Pepe suspended and Coentrao’s injury looking serious, he has another problem on his plate. This was the first time Portugal have conceded 4 goals in a World Cup and we can safely say that they were..umm.. Mullered. Talking about him, he now has 8 goals in 2 World Cups and in him, Germany have a very influential player, who has been involved in 11 out of the past 20 goals that Germany have scored in World Cups, he has scored 8 goals from 9 shots on targets in World Cups and has now scored 6 goals in his past 4 World Cup games. He is clinical and consistent. A mention to Manuel Neuer for keeping good concentration throughout the game and taking good goal kicks, as he was a spectator for most of the game. Joachim Low can be mighty pleased with his side’s performance and they affirmed their status as favourites to qualify as Group winners. With players such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Julian Draxler and Miroslav Klose not even used, it would be a travesty if Germany do not win the World Cup.
FIFA/Our MOTM – Thomas Müller. We’ve given him the name Mr. Consistent and this guy has been involved in Germany’s last 11 out of 20 goals in World Cups. He started where he left off, bagging the first hat-trick of the tournament vs a deflated Portugal. He was asked to play as a pocher and he did just that. A menace throughout the game, he became a handful to deal with. A superb penalty, a smart finish for the second and an easy tap in for his third, he looks well on course to claiming his second Golden Boot. With 8 goals in 2 World Cups already and at a tender age of 24, we think Miroslav Klose can retire in peace.
Flop Of The Match – Cristiano Ronaldo. Being the 2014 Ballon d’Or winner and Portugal’s highest goal scorer ever, the onus to score was on him. Also, with Messi scoring a sublime goal yesterday, there was a lot of pressure to score. Everyone expected him to shine, but instead we were left to ask the question – “Why has Paulo Bento not played Cristiano Ronaldo in such a crucial game?” He was nowhere to be seen and his impact was minimal. He had three free kicks out of which one was a routine save for Neuer and the other 2 did not even clear the wall. It was a night to forget for the European Golden Boot winner and he really needs to step up his game, if he wants his beloved Portugal to qualify to the next round.
FootballsToYou Moment of Madness: Pepe. On a night when Portugal would have required his services, he disappointed and showed the world why he is called the most hot headed defender in the world. What on Earth was he thinking when he decided to headbutt Thomas Muller after pushing him down? We have no idea what happens to him and in such an important game, his moment of madness probably will cost Portugal dearly. Unavailable for the next game, he has failed his country. In order to improve, he must become someone else, he must become something else.