With the 2014 FIFA World Cup firmly underway, we bring you the next in an in-depth series of match previews that centre on tactics, team selections and predicted XIs.
Next up is a big one; perhaps the blockbuster tie of the first round of group games. Germany vs. Portugal, Mario Goetze vs. Cristiano Ronaldo, heavyweight vs. heavyweight.
How Germany Will Shape Up
Germany's tournament preparations took a real hit last week when Marco Reus turned his ankle and was ruled out of the FIFA World Cup 2014 campaign.
With goals already a pre-existing issue—the only natural striker on Joachim Loew's roster is Miroslav Klose, who is 36 years of age—losing Reus puts more pressure on those carrying an already-heavy load.
Thomas Mueller, Goetze and Mesut Ozil, all first-choice starters in the current regime, will need to ensure their shooting boots are firmly on as Klose's impact is likely limited to "super sub."
In defence there are question marks too, with rookie Erik Durm primed for left-back, the centre-back conundrum yet to be solved and Philipp Lahm unsure whether he'll play right-back or central midfield.
For a side with so many options, they're sure as hell cutting it fine.
How Portugal Will Shape Up
Ronaldo is fit to play, and he'll slot in on the left-hand side of Paulo Bento's 4-3-3 formation.
Who pairs him on the other wing and who plays ahead of him as a central striker are mysteries, but with CR7 in the lineup, goals will flow regardless of who is selected.
Os Seleccao are stronger than they were at Euro 2012 thanks to the addition of midfield destroyer William Carvalho, who despite recording less than 10 appearances for the national team and less than 50 overall career showings, is a better natural fit as a sole anchor than Miguel Veloso.
The defensive line is set, Joao Moutinho will lead the midfield and Raul Meireles will likely provide the energy and running. All in all, it's a good match (on paper) for what Germany have to throw at them.
2 Tactical Clashes
1. Germany's Hybrid Attack
It's tough to plan for the unknown, and with Germany's attack in a state of flux, Portugal will need to identify what form it takes quickly and reshuffle to nullify it.
Watch for their midfield reorganisation early on as they account for between two and four Mannschaft attackers, with Mueller and Andre Schurrle/Lukas Podolski the most likely to breach the defensive line and look for space in behind.
Carvalho will likely have his hands full with Ozil, but what of Goetze? Who takes him?
2. Stopping Ronaldo
There are some who believe Lahm will play as a central midfielder for Germany in this tournament, but it's risky for Loew to put anyone other than him on Ronaldo for the opener.
He was toasted in the UEFA Champions League over two legs, true, but will Jerome Boateng or Benedikt Hoewedes fare any better? The answer is a likely no.
Loew will need to come up with a clever trap to halt Ronaldo in his tracks and knows he cannot ask any player to close him off one vs. one. Over the years we've seen all sorts of attempts, with perhaps the best method seeming the boxing-in Borussia Dortmund used on Hulk of Zenit St. Petersburg.
Dedicating resources to a defensive mechanism won't appeal to Loew, but it simply has to be done. He's alluded to the fact Boateng will take him on, but surely not alone?
Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.
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