The opening game of Group G saw two European giants go head-to-head in Salvador as Germany faced Portugal.
Germany lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Thomas Muller leading the line, flanked by Mario Götze on the left and Mesut Özil on the right and a midfield three of Philipp Lahm, Sami Khedira and Toni Kroos. Portugal adopted their usual tried and trusted 4-3-3 formation with Hugo Almeida playing in the number 9 role with Nani and Cristiano Ronaldo either side.
Games that promise so much can often disappoint, but this one certainly lived up to expectation.
A frantic opening to the game saw chances at both ends with Ronaldo going close and Khedira almost capitalizing on a goalkeeping howler from Rui Patricio. The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute when Mario Götze wriggled clear of the Portuguese defense, only to be hauled down by Joao Pereira when he was about to score. The referee only deemed the foul worthy of a yellow card and Thomas Muller stepped up to slot the ball home.
The pace of the game slowed down with no chances of note until the half hour mark when Mesut Özil was set free down the right hand side, his pullback was met by Götze who saw his shot blocked by Bruno Alves and turned behind for a corner. From the resulting corner, Toni Kroos’ out swinging cross was met by the head of Mats Hummels, who powered a header past the helpless Patricio to double Germany’s advantage.
After falling two goals behind, Portugal were sparked back into life with great opportunities for Fabio Coentrao and Eder. However any hope Portugal had of getting back in the game had gone as Pepe was sent off for a stupid act of violent conduct. Pepe appeared to hit Muller in the face with his arm and although contact seemed minimal, Muller going down easily didn’t bode well with Pepe as he then screams and forces his head into Muller whilst he is on the floor, enraging the German forward. The referee was left with no option but to send Pepe off.
It didn’t take long for Germany to completely kill the game off after a sustained period of pressure, Kroos’ cross fell kindly to Muller and his shot somehow found a way past Patricio and Germany were 3 nil up before half time.
The second half was somewhat of a training session for the Germans. Keeping the ball at will, creating more chances and very rarely being tested at the back. Germany’s fourth and Muller’s hat-trick came in the 78th minute as Andre Schurrle got in behind Portugal’s defense, his cross was only parried by Patricio into the path of Muller and the Bayern Munich star tapped home from close range.
The game finished rather quietly with Germany dominating possession and Portugal settling for what was a miserable night.
After a bright start to the contest, the game was finished in the 36th minute when Pepe was dismissed. From there, it was only damage limitations for the Portuguese. The front three for Germany were superb. The interchanging between them caused Portugal all sorts of problems. The midfield three kept the ball superbly and as soon as Germany went ahead, the game was played at their pace.
Germany should top the group from here but as for Portugal, they have two tough games remaining with key players missing.