One more match between heavyweights in the FIFA World Cup 2014, where we saw a clash between two European giants, Portugal and Germany. Portugal, a team packed with talent and captained by the world’s best footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, needed to start of well against Germany, one of the strongest teams in the tournament. With players like Nani, Raul Meireles, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão, who play for the biggest clubs in Europe and provide depth to the side, Portugal aimed to end a run of three defeats by Germany in major tournaments, when their World Cup brush took centre-stage on Monday. On the other hand, Germany a team omnipresent in the latter stages of the tournament, with one of the strongest defence in Hummels, Mertasacker and their captain Phillip Lahm are raring to go for full monty this time round. Having an exquisite passing game Germany plays like they are there to win each and every time they land up on the pitch.
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Thomas Mueller scored his first hat-trick for Germany and completely decimated the weak Portugal side, despite the presence of C. Ronaldo. The fans certainly did not expect such a performance from the men in red.
The match started off well, with box to box stuff. Both the teams were playing aggressive football but quite clearly Germany had most of the possession. Ronaldo did get past the defence once with his swirling dribble but by the time he could take the shot, he had a smaller goal to aim at, he blasted a left foot shot at the goal and the keeper easily fended it off.
In the 11th minute Joao Periera gave away a penalty and it was time for Thomas Muller to prove his metal. He did not disappoint, with a precise shot from the spot, striking the ball to the left corner of the Portuguese goal. The 1996 semi-finalists were now desperate for a goal, Nani’s outer was the closest that they came to scoring in the first half which sailed inches above the German goal. In between Portugal also lost big striker Hugo Almeida to an injury, he was replaced by Eder. In the 31st minute, Tony Kroos fired in a beautiful ball from the corner and Mario Gotze almost scored. Yes almost! A few minutes later the Germans won another corner and this time they converted it with the tall and strong defender Hummels forcing his way through the Portuguese defence. Germans 2-0 up, this sent a loud cheer across the stadium with the fans going crazy over the men in white and black.
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Paolo Bento’s men were now losing it all and it showed. In the 37th minute Pepe dispossessed Tony Kroos, the German cried out to the referee for a foul, but the referee did not pay heed to his pleas. Then Pepe did something which was totally uncalled for. He head butted Kroos who was sitting on the ground and this left the referee with no choice but to award him a red card. The memories of Pepe’s infamous 10-match ban for a similar incident for Real Madrid came back into the minds of the audience.
Germans were now filled with confidence and were completely relaxed; they kept the ball to themselves for rest of the half. And in additional time, Muller showed some exquisite skills to take a curling ball into the D, controlled it perfectly and netted the shot of the day. The curtains were down halfway with Portugal down, 3-0.
Now, no one could beat Germany but Germany itself, and failed to do so. Portugal was not as determined too, they showed weaknesses and provided the Germans with more chances. Their poor defending deserves special mention. Adding to their worries, Fabio Coentrao injured a groin muscle and was helped off the field in 65th minute, to be replaced by Andre Almeida. Minutes later, Hummels limped off the field with a right-knee injury, giving substitute defender Shkodran Mustafi his second cap. Germany’s efforts paid dividends in the 78th minute with Muller completing his first hat-trick for Germany, adding three more to his tally of five World Cup goals.
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A game which was expected to be a thrilling clash ended up as a one side affair. Now, if they desire to qualify for the knock-out rounds, Portugal footballers have to forget this performance and do better in the remaining two matches against Ghana and USA. Germany on the other hand, looks like a team which will annihilate any opponent that comes in front of them.
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