World Cup Group F: Germany v Portugal

By on June 16, 2014

Germany will face Portugal in their opening game of this year’s World Cup in a game which might be crucial in deciding the winner of Group F as both are already favorites to qualify for the next round.

Germany and Portugal are in a rather straight forward group with USA and Ghana. Germany and Portugal are expected to qualify to the knockout phase and the only real thing in question is who will finish top of the group. Finishing on top the group will be a real motivation as the winner of Group F will face the runner up of Group E and that willl offer the winners of this group a huge advantage ahead of the knockout phase. Which brings us back to this game and it’s importance. The two top teams face each other in the opening game and the result of this one could directly effect the outcome of the group and decide the eventual winners. The team that gets all three points from this one will be in pole position to finish top of the group as the remaining games against USA and Ghana can be considered realtively easier. Therefore, both sides can be expected to go into this game with full force and start with their strongest XI.

Germany’s route to the World Cup was relatively free of hurdles but Joachim Low’s side did face a lot of criticism regarding their defensive organization. Throughout the qualification phase, although they went past their opposition fairly easily, they did let in some very soft goals and the defence were to blame for most of them. They conceded 10 goals during the qualification stages and they must improve their defensive work if they are to go further in this competition. Low will have to choose from Hummels, Mertesacker, Howedes and Jerome Boateng very carefully as all four of them have been vulnerable at times and the partnership the Low chooses will make or break their defence. Joachim Low does have some concerns regarding his squad ahead of the opening game as they were dealt a severe blow when Marco Reus was ruled out of the tournament with an injury, just a few days before the world cup. Furthermore, Bastian Schweinsteiger who is a part of the squad, is doubtful for this game. Midfield partner Sami Khedira is also doubtful and the loss of both the starting midfielders will give Low a few headaches. Captain Philipe Lahm is expected to give up his usual role as right back and start in midfield if Sami Khedira is ruled out, where he has started regularly for Bayern Munich this season. Bayern Munich team mate Toni Kroos will most likely start in place of Bastian Schweinsteiger and take up the creative responsibilities. The left back spot is also a position of concern for Low as Schmelzer has also been ruled out due to injury and Borussia Dortmund youngster Erik Drum will most liekly start in his place.

Joachim Low faced some criticism regarding his selection of strikers as well as the German coach has only taken two pure center forwards, veteran Miroslav Klose and Volland, with him to Brazil. It is expected that he will start with a False 9 for most of Germany’s games and both Gotze and Thomas Muller can start in that position. Plus, Andre Schurrle has started for Chelsea as a striker a few times last season and that could be another option for Joachim Low.

Germany took part in three international friendlies before the tournament kicked off, winning one and drawing two of them. They drew games against Cameroon and Poland while the solo victory came against Armenia in a 6-1 thrashing. Germany have won their last 6 matches in FIFA World Cup while they have won their last 3 matches against Portugal in all competitions. Germany have scored at least 3 goals in their last 8 matches in FIFA World Cup.

Portugal’s route to the World Cup was not straight forward by any means. They had to face Sweden in the play-offs for a place in this year’s event and although their performance in those play-offs was impressive, their overall display in the aulification stage was anything but. They have been very shaky at times and can be considered rather self destructive. The squad at Paulo Bento’s disposal, composed of players like Joao Moutinho, Pepe, Rui Patricio, Raul Meireles and Balon D’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo, is not mediocre by any means and if the Portuguese can keep their heads, they have a great chance of getting al three points from this one. As already mentioned, they are favorties to qualify for the next round alongside Germany, the only thing of concern is which of these two teams will finish top of the group as a chance to play the runner up of Group E in the round of 16 is up for grabs. This is the toughest game for Portugal in this group and if they get off to a good start in this one, then they will be in pole position to finish above Germany.

There are some concerns for Portugal fans and officials regarding the fitness of Cristiano Ronaldo. The 2013 Balon D’Or winner had a great season with Real Madrid where he led Los Blancos to their long awaited ‘La Decima’; the 10th Champion’s League title. However, there were concerns over his fitness ever since the start of the new year as the 29 year old has been having recurring problems with his thighs. The thigh injury has been troubling him for some time and he had to come off in Portugal’s recent friendly owing to a discomfort in the same thigh. There were reports that he would be unavailable for Portugal’s opening game but according to latest news, Paulo Bento suggested that Ronald will defeinitely start in the opening game and he is fully fit to face the Germans. This could be considered a huge risk if Ronaldo is forcing himself back into the squad because if he is not completely fit, he got suffer from a career threatening injury.

Portugal also played three friendlies before the World Cup drawing one and winning two of them. Their last friendly was a 5-1 thrashing of Ireland. Portugal have won 6 of their last 7 matches in FIFA World Cup.

Germany will most likely move Philipe Lahm to midfield if Sami Khedira fails to make a start. In that case, Benedikt Howedes might start at right back with Erik Drum at left back. Mertesacker and Boateng are expected to start ahead of Boateng. Mario Gotze will probably be deployed as the false 9.

Portugal only have one concern ahead of this game. Although Bento suggest that Ronaldo will start, it is still unclear whether he will be able to do so. If he fails to make it to the starting XI, Nani will play in his place with Varela on the opposite wing. William Carvalho will probably start on the bench and Meireles, Moutinho and Veloso will start in midfield. Hugo Almeida is expected to start as well.

DATE: June 16, 2014

TIME: 5:00 PM BST

VENUE: Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Bahia

REFEREE: M. Mazic

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:
Germany (4-2-3-1):- Neuer; Durm, Hummels, Mertesacker, Lahm; Kroos, Khedira; Podolski, Ozil, Muller; Gotze
Portugal (4-3-3):- Rui Patricio; Coentrao, Pepe, Alves, Pereira; Moutinho, Veloso, Meireles; Ronaldo, Almeida, Varela

RECENT FORM:
Germany:- W D D
Portugal:- W W D

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: Germany 2-1 Portugal

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