Germany News: 5 Reasons Why Die Mannschaft Must Beat Portugal
There are optimists and there are pessimists. Spain's opening World Cup hammering at the hands of the Dutch was met by comparisons to the 2010 World Cup, where La Roja lost to Switzerland but went on to be crowned world champions.
However, the manner of their 5-1 defeat suggests that Spain are unlikely to be contesting the World Cup Final at the Estadio Maracana on 13 June.
For Germany, a similar rationale applies. Although the game against Portugal does not determine Die Mannschaft's entire World Cup campaign, life will suddenly become all the more difficult if they do not take the three points against the Portuguese.
Joachim Low and his players are already under pressure back home. Three points against Portugal would allow the players and management some welcome breathing space.
German legend Franz Beckenbauer was recently quoted as saying, per Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph:
Two years ago in the European Championship the team was very very good but not experienced enough. Now. It's two years later, so also they have a lot of experience. I think it's time for Germany to win the World Cup again.
Furthermore, another key member of Germany's successful team of the 1970s, Gunter Netzer, claims that the Germans have their "best squad ever." While speaking with Wilson, Netzer said:
We've an outstanding coach and some super individual players. Our team is in a great position to take the title. We've played some extraordinary football under Low but now is the time for next step.
4. Below-Par Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal, on paper, will provide the toughest test to Germany. However, this is mainly dependent on how well reigning Ballon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo performs.
As per the Italians toppling the English on Saturday, three points gives the Azzurri breathing space, whereas the Three Lions have it all to do in their next two games to progress through to the knockout rounds.
Despite Ronaldo being fresh following his role in Real Madrid's La Decima triumph, the Germans will hope that Portugal's skipper is not at his absolute peak following the niggling injuries he suffered toward the end of the season.
The Black Stars have steadily progressed during the last two tournaments, reaching the last 16 in 2006 and the quarter-finals in 2010.
Ghana were top scorers during Africa's World Cup qualification, and their powerful line-up is likely to pose the Germans problems.
Asamoah Gyan will be keen to exorcise the demons of 2010, where he missed a last-minute extra-time penalty against Uruguay. Redemption in the form of a German scalp would be significant for the Africans.
If Die Mannschaft goes into this match with anything less than three points, it will be a very nervous encounter, particularly if Ghana have already beaten the U.S. in their respective opening match.
2. Jurgen Klinsmann
Jurgen Klinsmann was the man thrust into the German hot seat when they hosted the 2006 World Cup.
Despite the national team being in a state of disarray in the runup to the tournament, Klinsmann (accompanied by Low) delivered a semi-final appearance which set the wheels in motion for Germany's return to a footballing superpower. Die Mannschaft have reached the latter stages of all major tournaments since.
However, in having to play the USA last in Group G, one cannot fail to speculate whether Klinsmann, the catalyst in 2006, may become Low's executioner in 2014.
In speaking to the World Soccer publication, Klinsmann said:
I'm proud that the staff I put into place in 2006 is still there, and they have an amazing team capable of winning the World Cup. It's going to be a big test for us, but we will be ready.
1. Avoid Argentina and Belgium Until the Later Rounds
Should the Germans miss out on a victory over Portugal, the top spot in the group could become a four-way scrap.
A second-place finish in the group is far from ideal because the second-round opponents would probably be dark horses Belgium.
Furthermore, if they were to prevail in that stern test, their likely quarter-final opponents would be Argentina.
Despite Germany having a recent favourable World Cup record against La Albiceleste—they eliminated the Argentines in last two World Cup quarter-finals—a South American-based meeting against Lionel Messi et al. at that stage of the competition is less than desirable.