Thomas Muller grabbed a hat-trick and Germany quickly established their credentials as favourites, we look at three key points to takeaway from this gameCOMMENT
By Bhas Kunju | Chief Editor, Goal Singapore
What a horrendous four days it has been for the Iberian Peninsula. Spain get hammered 5-1 by Netherlands and then Portugal suffer another humiliation going down 4-0 to Germany. What was supposed to be a competitive match turned into another rout.
|Ronaldo is polarising|
|Cristiano Ronaldo's form and fitness was closely followed by football fans prior to this fixture, eager to see the Fifa Ballon d'Or winner in action at the World Cup. The player brushed aside the injury concerns and was ready to start for Portugal. Fans rejoiced seeing his name confirmed in the starting lineup, and it looked like we were set to see a spectacle of a game. The man himself was in a good mood and was seen throwing his jersey into the crowd after his warm-up.
And then, things turned sour. First, the crowd, boasting large sections of German fans, surprisingly booed at the announcement of Ronaldo's name in the starting line-up, and then jeered him on at every touch. Nevertheless, Ronaldo started brightly and it looked like Germany were going to get punished for starting the slower of the two teams. But the penalty decision and going 2-0 down in just over half-hour of play changed the Real Madrid star's mood. Drastically.
Fans pounced on the misfortune and the Portuguese captain looked like he did not want any further part in the game. The second-half was more telling. There was no tracking back, there was no effort to recover lost posession, and he showed little interest in reaching for passes a tiny fraction out of reach.
What's amazing is how a player of his talent and reputation can turn this disillusioned in a snap, even more when he's sporting the captain's armband. Ronaldo did complete the game however, and most of it was spent trying to get himself on the scoresheet. If you can't find glory with your team, might as well earn one for yourself right?
|Count on Pepe
|Or don't. You will be hard pressed to find another player in the game with a reputation as reprehensible as the Real Madrid defender. First, he was at fault for allowing Hummels' to power a header into goal with little challenge, and then he did what he has been consistently doing in the span of his career - act out in petulance and get sent off. For a player who has had a career of high profile run-ins, including the infamous 10-game ban five years ago for his violent assault in a La Liga fixture, you would think lessons would have been learnt. Evidently not.
Yes, Thomas Muller made the most out of getting accidentally brushed in the face by the Portuguese defender's deadly fingers. But the subsequent headbutt on the German sitting squarely on the ground, and in full view of the referee just a few yards behind, is just bafflingly dumb. How could a defender of his experience playing in the biggest stage in world football, where a camera is trained on every player on the field, even react that way?
But it is Pepe. Count on Pepe to lose his head and ultimately the game.
|How potent is the German attack?
|That is not a rhetorical question. Here's some food for thought - Germany managed four goals against a 10-man Portuguese side, and did so without any out and out striker. But they did boast of the prolific Muller, who promptly grabbed the tournament's first hat-trick.
But how much of the demolition job was inflicted by an incisive German frontline and how much was down to a self-destructive Portuguese side? The answer is, it was probably down to a good mix of both.
Two of the goals came off of set-pieces; the first being a penalty, and the second a poorly defended corner-kick. The third was another sloppy attempt at a clearance and the last was just the worst piece of goalkeeping seen since Iker Casillas' blunder. The only consistent factor is that Muller was absolutely clinical - when given a half chance.
Germany managed 13 shots in the match, the exact same as Portugal, with only six being on target. Two more than their opponents with a man advantage. Everything about Joachim Low's side was gleaming of efficiency, but only up until the start of the final third of the pitch. From there, the Germans were relying on quick run-ins from the deep-lying attacking midfielders, and even the defensive midfielders. It worked in unsettling the defence and catching the backline offguard, but almost none of those, with the exception of the move that led to the penalty being conceded, amounted to anything more than shots blocked or off target.
The simple answer being that there was no real focal point in the attack for Germany. The goals came about from superb build-up play, and poor defending on the part of Portugal. How much of a threat Germany are in front of goal would be more obvious when facing a more imposing defence in the coming games.