Monday, Jul 21, 2014Monday, Jul 21, 2014
World Cup 2014
 

Germany 4 Portugal 0: Highlights, key battles and what the result means

Published on Jun 17, 2014 2:38 AM
 

One of the biggest group games so far at this World Cup turned into a bloodbath as Germany destroyed Portugal 4-0 in Salvador.

Pre-match, much attention was paid to reigning World Player of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo but it is Thomas Mueller, the Golden Boot and Best Young Player of the 2010 World Cup, that will dominate headlines for his hat-trick.

To make it worse for the Portuguese, Pepe was sent-off for a headbutt on Mueller in the first-half.

Highlights

- Portugal pressed the self-destruct button as early as the 12th minute when Mario Goetze was pulled down inside the box by Joao Pereira. Mueller was calm and collected to drill low into the net.

- Mats Hummels scored with a thumping header off a corner in the 32nd min.

- Pepe tangled with Mueller and the centre-back reacts angrily with a gentle headbutt. It was not the most vicious foul but that was enough to earn him an early bath. And there were almost 60 minutes left to play.

- Mueller completes his hat-trick with further goals in the 45th and 78th mins.

Key battle

CR7 versus Germany.

As Pepe literally deserted him and the rest of his team-mates largely unproductive, it was left to the Real Madrid superstar to take the fight to the Germans.

This is what Ronaldo lives for. He craves the attention, responsibility and the glory it brings if he can pull it off. But this is Germany - World Cup specialists, winning specialists, winning when playing badly specialists.

And this is Germany on a good day. Sami Khedira padlocked the midfield, Hummels was elegant at the back, Per Mertesacker gobbled up everything in the air, Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes dominated the flanks.

It was a cul-de-sac no matter where Ronaldo went.

Man of the Match

Mueller does not have the rapid stepovers, the rabona kicks, the roulette spins or a rocket free-kick... none of those signature skills that define a superstar.

But eight goals in seven World Cup games. That's more than what Wayne Rooney (zero in eight), Lionel Messi (two in nine) and Ronaldo (two in 11) can muster together. Surely, the 24-year-old's feat deserves to steal some attention away from that trio of football A-listers.

The Bayern Munich forward has mastered all the fundamentals, interprets the flow of the game brilliantly and knows how to time his runs. His second goal was a piece of magnetic ball control as he pounced on Bruno Alves' poor clearance before slamming home. And his third was pure predatory instinct as he was on hand to take advantage of goalkeeper Rui Patricio's spill to sweep into the net.

Mueller wears the No.13 shirt for Germany. That is a number worn with distinction by Gerd Mueller and Michael Ballack. He is on the right track to follow in their illustrious footsteps and might even outshine them all.

What the result means

The Germans get off to a flier in Group G and their confidence is high ahead of Sunday's game against Ghana in Fortaleza.

Portugal will need to pick up the pieces for next Monday's meeting with the United States and looking at how they collapsed, the Americans will fancy getting a result in the heat of Manaus.

On a personal level, in Ronaldo's eternal battle with Lionel Messi to be the best player of their generation, the score currently reads Leo 1 - CR7 0 at this World Cup.

And quietly, in his own way, Mueller is on his way to becoming a true World Cup star.