For one of the most hyped clashes of the group stages, the result didn’t really shock anyone, mainly due to the red card but also because, while Paulo Bento is a good manager and has put together a side much better than Carlos Queiroz’s four years ago, Germany are simply a level above Portugal.
Joachim Low switched from his regular 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 and it was clear to see the influence Pep Guardiola’s role at Bayern Munich has had on the team. Few players stood out as the attack drifted around the pitch at will and the midfield, Sami khedira especially, drove forward to join them. The passing would frequently look stale until a ball was suddenly slipped behind the Portuguese defence for a clear chance.
Portugal looked good however. The Germans would try to block the ball from being played into Miguel Veloso but the clever Raul Meireles would drop in alongside him to give them an alternative way of getting the ball out of defence, while they had some good breakaways on the wings when the German full-backs ventured forward. One part of their play that didn’t suit them was Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani tucking into the attacking midfield area as the full-backs stormed beyond them out wide, but they were passing well in tight spaces and creating good chances.
The game was thoroughly killed off by Pepe’s dismissal however. For a perennial wind-up merchant, it was somewhat surprising that Pepe was so easily led on – if not that he was sent off – which can only be explained by some kind of identity crisis. With an extra man, Germany gained complete control of the match and Portugal had no chance of clawing anything back.
Germany are the obvious candidates to top the group, but Portugal impressed too despite the result and should be looking at the other teams in the group as easy prey.