Christophe Ena/Associated Press
Four years ago, Joachim Low coached Germany to a 4-0 blowout of an Argentina that, among other tactical oddities, included a back line of four players known as centre-backs. Considering the result, it may have been a little surprising that the trainer used Jerome Boateng, Per Mertesacker, Mats Hummels and Benedikt Howedes as his back four against Portugal.
But in fairness, it worked quite well.
Hummels was an absolute rock at the back and was a candidate for man of the match before coming off injured. The player told reporters (per Goal.com) after the match that he'd only taken a minor blow to the thigh and that he would be healthy within the next few days. Based on Monday's performance, he'll start as long as he's fit.
Mertesacker played his part very well in the centre of defense—a somewhat muted role with Hummels meant to be the more aggressive of the pair—and was never put under huge pressure. Boateng was also excellent in nullifying Cristiano Ronaldo, a tall task for a player used out of position. The Bayern man even got forward on a few occasions.
Of the back four, Howedes was perhaps the weakest link. Although caught out of position once or twice, he wasn't punished. And given the fact that left-back is Germany's position of least depth, he'll more likely than not keep his starting role.
The fact that Low opted to replace Hummels with Shkodran Mustafi as opposed to a full-back strongly suggests that the four-centre-back plan is something he intends to keep at least for the short term.