Two giants of international football begin their respective 2014 World Cup campaigns on Monday, with three-time champions Germany taking on Portugal in Salvador.
The nations have played out some remarkable matches over the years, having faced each other in every major tournament since 2006 except one, but 2014’s clash is set to be the most exciting yet.
With some of the best players in world football on show in the Group G curtain-raiser, the clash of the group stage looks sure to live up to its billing.
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Date: Monday 16 June
Time: 5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET
TV Info: ITV1/ESPN
Germans Looking to Continue Form Against the Portuguese
Since the turn of the millennium, the Germans’ record against Portugal has been absolutely flawless, recording victories in the 2006 World Cup, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, according to 11v11.
Back in 2012, Mario Gomez scored the only goal of the game, as Germany ran out 1-0 winners in the European Championship’s Group B. However, there’s a new (well, old) face set to lead the line this time around.
Miroslav Klose, the only recognised striker in Germany’s 2014 World Cup squad, became the nation’s all-time highest goalscorer on 6 June when he netted in the 6-1 friendly victory over Armenia—per BBC Sport:
Though manager Joachim Low is likely to use either Mario Goetze or Thomas Mueller in the advanced position, Klose will undoubtedly play a part from the bench as he looks to become the highest-ever World Cup goalscorer.
Currently sitting on 14 goals, the 36-year-old needs just two more to set the record, as Squawka revealed:
However, while Portugal will have done their homework on Klose, Germany have a certain Cristiano Ronaldo to keep tabs on in Salvador.
The Real Madrid star has scored 11 goals in his last eight internationals, per Soccerway, and will be in the mood to add to his tally of just two World Cup goals when the action gets underway in Brazil.
The 29-year-old is integral to Portugal’s cause but limped out of training earlier this week with a knee problem—as Fox Soccer revealed:
However, Portugal goalkeeper Eduardo eased the tension among the Portuguese fans—and the neutrals, of course—by insisting that Ronaldo will be ready to face the Germans on Monday—per the Agence France-Presse (via FIFA.com):
Cristiano is training well, he’s training hard and we are sure he’s going to be 100 per cent to help us and to have an excellent game. He’s healthy and he can’t wait to start this tournament. He’s determined and he wants to play to the limit, like all of us, with an immense will to win and give our best. You can see it in training, in the hotel, and that’s certainly going to reflect in the tournament.
Keeping Ronaldo in check is one of the toughest tasks a defender can face—just ask any one of La Liga’s finest. With 31 goals from 30 appearances in the league last season, per WhoScored.com, the Madrid star has the ability to change any game in an instant.
However, if there’s one defence that stands a chance of handling him, then it’s Germany’s.
The stubborn Germans have kept six clean sheets in their last 10 matches, according to Soccerway, and with the lines between World Cup glory and failure being so fine, Low’s side will likely shut up shop from the offset in Salvador.
When two of the best sides on the planet meet, fireworks erupt—just look at the Netherlands’ 5-1 thrashing of Spain in Group B’s opener if you ever needed proof.
With two of the best going at it on Monday, the same drama and thrilling action is expected as the race for knockout-stage progression begins.
Though Portugal have a wealth of talent at their disposal, Germany just have the tactical edge to sneak over the line, though it won’t be an easy ride for them.
Prediction: Germany 2-1 Portugal