1 Thing Portugal Must Change Following Loss vs. Germany

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1 Thing Portugal Must Change Following Loss vs. Germany
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Losing your opening match is never a particularly good way to start a tournament, and that manner of defeat can even make it a catastrophe.

Spain's 5-1 hammering at the hands of Holland was a bitter pill for the reigning world champions to swallow, but as a team that's won everything in football, at least they have recent history in their favour.

For Portugal, it's a very different story. The 4-0 loss to Germany will be difficult to recover from.

It wasn't just the scoreline that will haunt the Portuguese or the poor individual performances draining their confidence.

The injuries and suspensions, with Pepe ruled out after his needless red card for a head-butt on Thomas Mueller, mean they will probably be forced to make three personnel changes to the starting XI.

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Fabio Coentrao and Hugo Almeida are both expected to miss the match with the USA, via Paul Wilson of The Guardian, with the three substitutes, Ricardo Costa, Andre Almeida and Eder, the favourites to slot in.

It wouldn't be too harsh to suggest further amendments to the side, with Rui Patricio, Bruno Alves and Nani among those not immune from criticism.

But that would likely destabilise the team further and almost certainly the squad.

The one thing they must certainly change is their attitude.

Paulo Bento will have his work cut out with this one, but his team are seriously lacking mental strength.

There is little time to make too many tactical adjustments that will work efficiently and so Bento's resources should be put toward improving the morale.

There are exceptions of course; no one can accuse Cristiano Ronaldo of lacking self-belief, but there are others around him who are not so cocksure.

Portugal never looked like getting anything from the game the moment they first fell behind, although Bento felt his side were comfortable up to that point, as per FIFA.com

"With the exception of the first few minutes, when we made a slow start, we were pretty much in control of things, and it was a fairly even game until the first goal," the manager said.

They seemed to resign themselves to the fact that it wasn't their day—it never is against Germany.

It's what can happen when you have players with such varied talents and experiences.

Some players arrive at the World Cup full of confidence and to show they are ready for the biggest stage, whilst others turn up dishevelled after a long, hard season of underachieving.

There were six Portugal players who started against Germany and arrived for national team duty having earned a trophy this season, but three of them were doubts in the lead-up to the competition.

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Pepe, Ronaldo and Raul Meireles all had to overcome injury concerns, which is far from the best preparation.

Others have endured disastrous campaigns for their domestic sides.

Meireles' Fenerbahce may have won the Turkish league, but the former Liverpool and Chelsea midfielder started only half their matches.

Manchester United's Nani was left out for large parts of the season, as he made the first 11 only seven times in the Premier League.

Then, there were others that were playing regularly but struggled to hit the desired levels.

The goalscoring start by Almeida last summer was fantastic for Besiktas, but his prowess took a nose dive as he netted just once for his club since the middle of February.

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In Ukraine, Miguel Veloso's Dynamo Kyiv may have won their cup, but they finished fourth in the league. It was their lowest position since the league was formed in 1992.

Joao Pereira's Valencia have not finished in a Champions League berth since he joined the club, and their eighth place was their lowest for six years.

Not to mention Joao Moutinho's huge transfer fee hanging over his head at Monaco this term.

It's a test of Bento's man-management skills and is fundamental to any chance of progression.

There are few senior players within this squad who haven't had to overcome some sort of distress whether caused by club, injuries or form in recent months.

 

Stats via WhoScored unless otherwise noted. 

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