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Müller pulverises Portugal

AS AS 17/06/2014 Luis Nieto

Germany showed this evening just what a great side they really are - organized, modern, mature and able. Cristiano Ronaldo didn’t look fully over his injury problems and Pepe let his temper boil over yet again – this time, meddling with a FIFA match official Milorad Mazic. Three factors which explain how Joachim Löw’s side were able to serve up a no holds barred thumping to a Portugal side who were inferior on the day, without a centre-forward or any structure in midfield and who committed to many unexpected lapses in concentration at the back. Injuries to Hugo Almeida and Coentrão and a penalty not awarded after Höwedes felled Eder only

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Germany displayed the same class as always but went about their demolition of their opponents in a different way, Löw managing to inject a new, more modern approach to their game. Apart from Thomas Müller, whose finishing was untidy but mercilessly efficient – he’s netted eight goals in seven outings in the World Cup. But there are no giants who possess three lungs in the current Mannschaft – nor a tank revving ahead of the infantry. They play without an out-and-out centre-forward, elaborating a neat passing game now that their game comprise six of the players who were crowed European champions at Under-21 level in 2009. Those players have now reached maturity and despatched Portugal with great authority.

Orchestrating play from the centre of the park was Kroos – a midfielder in the mould of Schuster or Effenberg – a magnificent reader of the game who can conductplay equally well with measured long or short balls. Göetze and Müller pair up with him well, Özil less so. Germany have their very own artist – their own Curro Romero if you like.

Cristiano began well, playing in Hugo Almeida early on and testing Manuel Neuer from a tight angle later on but then he vanished from the game. He only reappeared in stoppage time when the keeper blocked one of his efforts when the result was already decided. Germany’s centre-back pair Boateng and Höwedes had a relatively calm evening in contrast to what went on at the opposite end. Joao Pereira tripped Göetze and a penalty was awarded on minute 12, Müller tucking the spot-kick low inside the post.

More carelessness in Portugal’s defence followed. Hummels was left free to head in Germany’s second from a corner. The problems continued when they lost Almeida to injury then were reduced to 10 men after Pepe was sent off for lashing a hand in Müller’s face then squaring up to the player, and lightly head butting him for inexplicably believing that the German was feigning a clear foul. It was another example of hot-headedness which has tarnished his career at Real Madrid. Portugal’s engine room, comprising Mourinho, Veloso and Meireles didn’t give them the superiority they needed in the centre of the pitch.

Müller made it 3-0, striking low from a set-piece then Germany took their foot off the gas. With temperatures hitting 30 degrees and humidity at close to 86%, it was a wise decision. Even so, Özil and Göetze forced saves out of Rui Patricio in the final moments. And in the meantime, Coentrão’s adductor muscle forced him to quit the pitch. It looks like his World Cup could be over. Hummels also retired after awkwardly twisting his ankle as the game turned towards something more like an episode of Casualty. The insatiable Müller, the leading goal scorer in South Africa 2010, tapped in for his hat trick as Germany claimed their right in rebuilding their empire. Portugal’s debut performance at Brazil 2014 on the other hand was as sombre as the most sorrowful Fado.

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