They have laid the groundwork for their run to the final in a fantastic performance. Germany absolutely thrashed Ronaldo and Portugal in a 4-0 win that threw down the gauntlet towards the likes of Brazil and Argentina – they have shown today why they feel they are team of destiny this summer. Not on German player put a foot wrong on the day in truth, while Portugal completely capitulated under the weight of the German onslaught.
It was a very telling performance, for both Germany and Portugal. Yes the Germans were great, but Portugal, despite having talented players on their roster, were awful. Here is our review.
Germany (4-3-3): Manuel Neuer; Benedikt Howedes, Mats Hummels, Per Mertesacker, Jerome Boateng; Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos; Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze
Portugal (4-3-3): Rui Patricio; Fabio Coentrao, Pepe, Bruno Alves, Joao Pereira; Raul Meireles, Miguel Veloso, Joao Moutinho; Cristiano Ronaldo, Hugo Almeida, Nani
As expected, the opening exchanges saw Portugal defending but looking to break quickly through Ronaldo and Nani. With Boateng and Howedes playing at right-back and left-back, that was the German weakness and it was almost exploited in the 4th minute when Ronaldo blew by an out of position Boateng but his shot was scuffed right at Neuer. Another German mistake in the 7th minute saw Lahm give the ball away to Veloso in the German defensive third – Ronaldo was released but his low drive was easily saved by Neuer. Immediately at the other end Rui Patricio’s clearance fell right to Khedira 30 yards from goal with it gaping, but his shot ran just wide. Germany would have the opener on 10minutes however, when Gotze was brought down in the box by Pereira after excellent combination play with Ozil. Thomas Muller, golden boot winner in 2010, cooly converted from the spot for his 18th goal in 50 caps to give Germany an early 1-0 lead.
The aftermath of Muller’s goal saw the status-quo remain the same. Portugal were happy to defend and counter, while Germany were more than pleasing with their off the ball runs through the forward channels, especially via Muller. Portugal nearly equalized through Nani however, when he found just enough space at the top of the box from 20 yards out but his effort bent just over the bar. Almeida was taken off on 28minutes, with Eder his replacement. The apparent injury to the front-man was enough to take him off and his removal threw a bit of a monkey wrench into coach Paulo Bento’s plans. Almeida a very good holder of the ball with strong aerial ability, but Eder offers a little something different and fresh, but Portugal would still have to adjust.
Germany nearly made it 2-0 on 30minutes when Ozil was released into space. He held up, squared it to Gotze but his effort was blocked by Almeida. They were not to be denied however, when the resulting corner from Kroos found the head of Hummels who leaped highest over both Pepe and Bruno Alves to head home. 2-0 Germany and they were looking comfortable. Portugal however nearly pegged one back when Moutinho found space in the box, but rather than shoot he looked to lay off Ronaldo – the pass was deflected just past Neuer’s post.
Nearly an own-goal from the Germans but events just after would put Germany in firm command. Muller and Pepe battled for the ball in Portugal’s third when Muller pretended to be elbowed in the face – certainly was cheeky by Muller to playact, but Pepe reacted by head-butting Muller while on the ground. Instant red for the player, who has eight in his club career and will now miss their match against the United States. Germany were now up a man with a 2-0 lead and Portugal were back against the wall. And when you think it couldn’t get worse, it did. Ozil’s cross from the left ended up finding Kross on the other side of the box, who’s cross then found Muller in the box who calmly slotted home. 3-0 Germany, Muller had his brace and looked odds on for a hat-trick. Germany went into the half completely comfortable and looking fantastic as expected.
Bento would ring in the changes for Portugal before the half got under way with Ricardo Costa coming on for Veloso, hopefully giving Portugal better defensive shape for the remainder of the match. Ozil nearly put Germany 4-0 up inside the first five minutes of the second half, but his placed effort was kick-saved well by Patricio. Despite Costa coming on, Germany were still breaking the off-side trap far too easily. Futher half-chances were almost created by the Germans through Ozil and Gotze amounted to nothing, but they were still completely in control.
The lackluster performance of Ozil would come to an end on 60minutes when Andre Schurrle was introduced at his expense. Many expected Schurrle to start, and the so-so showing from Ozil may well fuel that fire. Portugal used their third and final sub on 65minutes with Andre Almeida coming on for Coentrao, who was not terrible impressive himself. Skhodran Mustafi was introduced into the match in the 73rd minute after an apparent injury to Hummels – the move could end up as just being precautionary, but never the less, Mustafi would make his World Cup debut.
Thomas Muller was not to be denied on the day, and he would complete his hat-trick in the 78th minute when Andre Schurrle found space down the right to put the ball across the frame of goal – his pass was tipped by Patricio into the path of Muller who only had to slot home from less than three yards away. His fantastic performance would be rewarded only a minute later when Lukas Podolski would come on in his place for the last ten minutes – he was given a standing ovation by the supporters, both German and neutral alike.
The match would not end without a fantastic effort on goal from a dead-ball situation by Ronaldo, but at over 30 yards out, you never expect Neuer to not save it comfortably. In the end it was Germany’s biggest World Cup in over Portugal and my goodness were they exceptional on the day.
Man of the Match
Player ratings for Germany
Neuer – 7.0: Apart from his save on Ronaldo’s free-kick, he surprisingly was not really tested at all.
Boateng – 7.5: He did a fantastic job of shutting Ronaldo/that flank down after he found his footing. He turned a head or two at how well he performed.
Hummels – 8.0: Did a fantastic job. Got himself on the scoresheet with his header, was a constant threat in the box and did a fantastic job in the defensive end. If his injury is a serious one, that could be devastating.
Mertesacker – 7.0: He was quietly effective, but his lack of pace was never exposed. Still did not put a foot wrong, and played well.
Howedes – 7.0: There were concerns of him playing at left-back, and he did give too much space to Nani at times, but over all he played well.
Lahm – 7.0: Could have been held responsible early on if Portugal converted on one or two of his giveaways in midfield, but he settled down and was his usual self after.
Khedira – 7.5: Did very well to neutralize the potential threat from the Portuguese midfield and even did well in the final third to try to get into the box and take markers away from Muller.
Kroos – 8.0: Was very creative from both dead-ball situations and the run of play. Assisted Hummels’ goal while creating the chance for Muller’s second.
Ozil – 6.5: Really was not all that impressive, but was decent enough. Made one or two key passes, but should have scored or laid Muller off for his hat trick, and tried to do too much when on the ball.
Muller – 9.5: He was as close to perfect as you can get for a center forward. Three goals, brilliant movement off the ball and a menace from the first whistle. Would have given him a 10 if he didn’t play-act before Pepe was sent off.
Gotze – 7.5: Could of had a goal but he did very well in the final third, popping up all over the pitch and causing havoc. Won the penalty for Germany as well – he did well.
Schurrle – 6.5: Came on and was lively, and his ball across frame resulted in Muller’s third. The disappointing performance of Ozil may see him start the next match.
Mustafi – 6.0: Came on and did not have much to do, but congrats to him for making his first World Cup appearance for his country.
Podolski – 6.0: Did little after coming on, not really his fault as he only had 10 minutes to try to make an impact.
Player ratings for Portugal
Patricio – 4.0: Could not do much on the penalty, but could have done better on Hummels’ header as well as Germany’s fourth – experienced but it did not show today.
Coentrao – 6.0: Did not threaten going forward nearly enough, if at all. He, like the rest of the Portuguese back-line, did little to deal with the German front three efficiently enough.
Pepe – 3.0: He was horrible throughout. Beaten in the air numerous times, could not deal with the movement of Muller, Gotze and Ozil and was sent off for a head-butt. Failed to represent his country when they needed him.
Alves – 3.0: Completely exposed all match. No pace, was poor in the air and even worse when it came to marking in the box on both set pieces and during the run of play – he was awful.
Pereira – 4.5: Struggled with all the movement in the final third that the Germans brought to the table today. Like the rest, he was poor.
Meireles – 4.5: Could really have done more to at least get back and put Muller, Gotze and Ozil off their game.
Veloso – 6.0: Did pretty okay. Was good in his box-to-box role, did well to put Lahm under pressure when the German was on the ball, but did little in a creative sense.
Moutinho – 5.5: A sub-par performance from someone that is as talented as he is.
Ronaldo – 5.0: Apart from having chances in the early exchanges in the matc, he was quite poor and lacked influence on the match.
H.Almeida -4.5: Did very little indeed. Looks out of shape and not the player he was years ago, and many still question why he is first choice for Portugal.
Nani – 5.5: Had some moments of influence, a few efforts on goal and was more threatening than Ronaldo, but not by much.
Eder – 4.5: Flashed a header over the bar soon after coming on for Almeida, but did nothing else after that.
Costa – 4.5: Came on and did nothing to fill the void in defense really, but at least he did not take a foolish red card.
A.Almeida – 4.0: Was caught out of position far too often after coming on, and yes that’s because he was played out of position, but he did not adjust to that either.