What on paper promised to be a tightly fought contest ended up being a walk in the park for Germany and Joachim Löw.
Portugal will be bitterly disappointed with their performance as they fell apart. And if they continue to play this way against the USA and Ghana, they’ll be on the first plane back home.
Germany on the other hand put on a show that will no doubt force their rivals to sit up and take notice.
Here are my 5 observations from Germany 4-0 Portugal:
1. Germany stroll
As a contest, it was effectively over by half time. Such was the domination by the Germans that the game became a veritable training ground exercise. Thomas Müller celebrated his 50th cap with a hat trick and Mats Hummels helped himself to a goal with a majestic header from a Toni Kroos corner.
The movement of the Germans was absolutely sublime with the front players interchanging positions at will and intelligently ghosting between the lines. Portugal’s defenders did not know how to deal with a slick German unit and were continually exposed time and time again.
Joachim Löw’s side will rue is their lack of a clinical edge in the second half. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that the Germans could have won by six or seven goals.
The performance by Germany is an ominous sign to their rivals. The Germans didn’t just beat one of the so-called better sides they swatted them aside with complete and utter contempt.
The only black mark on an otherwise good day was the injury to goal scorer Mats Hummels.
2. Thomas Müller loves the World Cup
Müller is one of the most intelligent players in his position managing to find pockets of space and knowing exactly when and where to move when an attack is developing.
He has played in seven World Cup games and has scored a total of eight goals. Not a bad return at all. He’s certainly worth taking a punt on to finish as the World Cup’s top scorer.
The only blot in his copybook in this match was his rather theatrical reaction when tussling for the ball with Pepe. He’d be best advised to dispense of that part of his game lest he develops a reputation for simulation.
3. Portugal are the architects of their own downfall
The Portuguese did not know how to live with the verve and movement of the dynamic Germans. Goalkeeper Rui Patricio nearly gifted the opening goal to Germany when he inadvertently passed to Sami Khedira. Thomas Müller did capitalize on a Rui Patricio error though as the Portuguese self-destructed.
They were lucky not to have been reduced to 10-men when João Pereira pulled back Mario Götze in the penalty area. A stricter official could have interpreted Pereira’s infringement as denying a goal scoring opportunity and given the Portuguese defender a red card.
Bruno Alves’ weak clearance only succeeded in presenting Thomas Müller with an opportunity to score Germany’s third which the Bayern Munich man gleefully accepted. It truly was a day to forget for those wearing the red of Portugal.
Their shambolic defending and sloppy play really was a theme especially in the first half as their back line were at sixes and sevens giving possession away cheaply.
The dependence on Ronaldo is quite clear to see as well. Nani and the luckless Fábio Coentrão had opportunities to go for goal in but preferred to look for Ronaldo instead. Ronaldo may be Portugal’s talisman but his teammates cannot expect the Real Madrid star to single-handedly win them games all the time even if he thinks he can.
The Portuguese need to regroup for their next encounter against the USA. They will almost certainly be deprived of the services of the injured Fábio Coentrão and Hugo Almeida and of course they will be without the one and only Pepe.
4. The Madness of Pepe
Pepe has form in committing acts of football stupidity and villainy. This episode was just another collector’s item for his scrapbook. Thomas Müller deserves to be ridiculed for going down so easily after Pepe tried to hold him off but the Real Madrid defender’s decision to bump his head into Müller’s was an act of utter idiocy and cost his team any chance of mounting a comeback. Pepe, the third player to see red at this World Cup, will not play in the remaining group games and may quite possibly have played his last match in this tournament.
Perhaps the biggest indictment of Pepe was the fact that his teammates did better, under the circumstances, with him off the field than with him on it.
5. Can Germany’s Golden Generation fulfill their potential?
It is hard to argue against the notion that Germany is one of the elites of the international game. Under the tutelage of Joachim Löw this team is young and hungry for success and now seem to be maturing into a side that can challenge for trophies.
It is difficult to find any weaknesses in their team. They possess a world-class goalkeeper, are sturdy at the back, solid in midfield and mesmerizing going forward. On the evidence of this display there are only a handful of teams who could live with the Germans.