Germany kicked off their world cup campaign with a big win over 10-man Portugal as Pepe is sent off after a head-butt on Bayern Munich forward Thomas Muller.
This was built up as the biggest match of the tournament so far, but it failed to live up to all the hype as it ended up being a one-sided encounter.
Germany made some surprise selections as Joachim Low used Philipp Lahm as the holding midfielder in place of Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was facing fitness concerns. Germany started the match with four center-backs as Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes were used as full-backs. Low also chose to keep Miroslav Klose on the bench and started with a false 9.
The plan worked well from the start as Germany took an early lead in the match. Joao Pereira brought down Mario Gotze in the box and Thomas Muller stepped up to convert the resultant penalty. Low’s side started to dominate possession and Portugal were left chasing shadows. Twenty minutes later Mats Hummels doubled their advantage with a powerful header from a corner, after being allowed to have a free run in the box against a static Portuguese defence.
Five minutes later, all hopes of a comeback by Portugal went away with the dismissal of Real Madrid defender Pepe. As Muller went down under a challenge from Pepe at the back, the center back inexplicably head butted the Bayern Munich forward and received a red card for his actions.
Things went from bad to worse as Germany scored their third goal of the game as Thomas Muller was the first to react to a loose ball in the box.
The second half became a training ground exercise for Germany as they kept the ball under no pressure and it was only a matter of how many they would score at that point. But despite creating a host of chances they failed to convert them, until Thomas Muller completed his first hat-trick in the 78th minute of the match.
It was a comfortable win the end of the German side and Joachim Low was proud of his team’s performance, especially how they defended against a dangerous Portuguese attack and managed to limit them to a handful of chances.
“The team played well and didn’t let Portugal have many chances.
“We played at high pace in the first half to get our chances. It’s important to prevent Ronaldo from getting a run going because he’s very dangerous then.” – The Germany manager said in his post-match interview.
He also insisted that the harsh climatic conditions forced his side to play ‘economically’ in the second half.
“It was a different match in the second half and the aim was to play economically and keep control of the ball.
“We knew it was going to be hot and it might be even hotter in the next two matches.
“It’s very difficult to run and run under these conditions. It only works when you defend together. We needed everyone to work hard together today and to dig deep to overcome the pain.” – Low added.