Germany will be hoping to salvage their hopes of securing a top two finish in Group F as they take on Portugal on Saturday, at the Allianz Arena.

2014 World Cup champions Germany are in a spot of bother following a disappointing 1-0 defeat to France in the opening fixture. Their upcoming game against Portugal could be a must-win one, as the two sides lock horns with one another at the Allianz Arena in Munich.

A defeat for Germany could diminish their hopes of securing a top-two finish, providing France do win their game against Hungary. Die Mannschaft, therefore, will have to live at the mercy of other nations in the hopes of securing a place in the next round as four of the best third-placed teams.

Despite the poor start, though, German fans will be delighted with the team’s fighting spirit in the first game. They appeared to be far better than their form and weaknesses suggested heading into the competition, but things are bound to remain difficult as they take on defending European champions Portugal.

Widely tagged as among the favourites with France, Italy and Spain, O Selecao started the tournament with a 3-0 win over Hungary. The result, though, perhaps flattered them as they were far from clinical and had to rely on two deflections to score the opener late in the game.

The unfortunate goal from Raphael Guerreiro shattered the Hungarian hearts, allowing the mercurial Cristiano Ronaldo to bag two goals during the last stretch of the game. The defending champions will need to be much more clinical as they take on a strong German team determined to get back to winning ways after the loss to France.

Here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their important Group F match at the Allianz Arena this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Germany

Germany’s opening game against France exposed some of the team’s glaring weaknesses, including the lack of a proper goalscorer. Serge Gnabry was entrusted with leading the line, but the Bayern Munich winger failed to have a clear sight on goal.

Gnabry’s partnering attackers Thomas Muller and Kai Havertz produced dismal performances as well, so it won’t be surprising to see Joachim Loew resorting to a few changes. Gnabry and Havertz are candidates to be replaced, with the former not training with the team earlier.

SINSHEIM, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 09: Head coach Joachim Loew of Germany looks on prior to the International Friendly match between Germany and Peru at Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena on September 9, 2018 in Sinsheim, Germany. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Joachim Loew will have to make tactical tweaks to ease his side’s transition. (Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Leroy Sane is a like for like replacement for Havertz, while replacing Gnabry could be a bit tricky. It will be a risk to start with Kevin Volland, and despite his excellent campaign in Ligue 1, we might once again witness the former Arsenal prodigy spearheading the Germany attack.

Another notable weakness for Germany was the right wingback position. Joshua Kimmich struggled to orient himself in that slot, often moving in centrally, where he was quite effective. Unfortunately, the recent injury to Lukas Klostermann means that the Bayern Munich midfielder will have to continue in the right wing-back position.

In midfield, Leon Goretzka is pushing for the starting eleven after recovering quickly from his injury. Loew, however, is not convinced enough to start with the Bayern Munich star, meaning he could persist with the midfield duo of Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos.

Considering Kimmich’s desire to move in centrally, however, Loew might be tempted to deploy Matthias Ginter in a wider role than usual. The Gladbach defender is quite familiar with the right-back position, so the onus will be on him to cover Kimmich.

It might force Gosens to feature deeper than usual, forming a situational 4-3-2-1 with Mats Hummels and Antonio Rudiger operating in central defence, cover Manuel Neuer in between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Neuer; Ginter, Rudiger, Hummels; Kimmich, Gundogan, Kroos, Gosens; Muller, Sane; Gnabry

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Portugal

Portugal head coach Fernando Santos will be taking notes from Germany’s defeat to France, and indeed, their own win over Hungary from matchday 1.

It was apparent that the Germans were struggling against the pace of Kylian Mbappe. Santos might be tempted to start with Rafa Silva, ahead of Bernardo Silva on the right flank. He and Diogo Jota, on the opposite flank, should ideally operate as runners, thus allowing Bruno Fernandes to pick out balls out wide.

SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Fernando Santos, Head coach of Portugal looks on prior to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Can Santos mastermind a win over Germany this weekend? (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)

Both the wingers, though, are likely to drift infield, joining Cristiano Ronaldo in doubling down on the German backline. The onus will be on the wingbacks Nelson Semedo and Raphael Guerreiro to make overlapping runs, although the latter is more than capable of moving in centrally as he did for the goal against Hungary.

In midfield, it will be interesting to see whether Santos persists with the double-pivot of two defensive midfielders in Danilo Pereira and William Carvalho. Given Portugal may need more control in possession, we are expecting Ruben Neves to come back into the side at the expense of Carvalho.

Santos has some exciting options on the bench, including Renato Sanches, Joao Felix and Pedro Goncalves. At least one of them is expected to make an appearance from the bench, depending on the situation.

As for the defensive department, Portugal should continue with the central defensive combination of Ruben Dias and Pepe. It won’t be surprising to see Danilo moving back into deeper areas and acting as an auxiliary centre-back, at times, forming a situational 3-4-3, especially during defensive stances.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Patricio; Semedo, Pepe, Dias, Guerreiro; Danilo, Neves; Silva, Fernandes, Jota; Ronaldo

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Form Guide

Germany: LWDLW

Portugal: WWDWD

Key Stats

  • Germany and Portugal have met each other on 18 previous occasions, with Die Mannschaft predominantly being the better side, securing 10 wins while losing only thrice.
  • Portugal haven’t won against Germany in 21 years, with their previous win coming in the Euro 2000 group stage encounter. Sergio Conceicao’s hat-trick sealed a 3-0 victory for O Selecao.
  • Fernando Santos’ Portugal, though, have been beaten just once in their last 16 fixtures across all competitions, dating back to October 2019 (W11 D4).

Players in Focus

Joshua Kimmich (Germany)

Joshua Kimmich is once again going to be the central feature of this German side, although unfortunately, the midfielder won’t be able to play centrally due to the injury of Klostermann. So it will be up to him to orient himself to his new role and produce a better performance than last time out.

Joachim Loew might make things easier for Kimmich by deploying a 3-4-2-1 that can flex into a 4-3-2-1, allowing the Bayern Munich midfielder to drift in centrally, with Ginter operating as the right-back. Whether or not it will make any difference to the proceedings remains to be seen, however.

Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Still going strong at 36. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The talisman for Portugal. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Cristiano Ronaldo is the undisputed star player for Portugal, having broken the record of most goals scored in the European Championship with his brace against Hungary. He is also one of only two players to have successfully converted their spot-kicks in Euro 2020 so far, and Portugal will be hoping for that precision once again as they take on Germany.

Ronaldo clearly doesn’t have the pace and trickery in his game anymore. However, his ability to sniff goalscoring opportunities combined with his incredible aerial prowess makes him a constant threat to the German defence. It will be fascinating to witness the aerial duel between him and Hummels, with the duo having previously tussled many times in the UEFA Champions League.

Prediction

Germany 1-0 Portugal

Despite the quality on show from both sides, this promises to be a low scoring affair as the two teams are likely to embrace a cautious approach. Portugal, in particular, will be well aware of the fact that a draw could significantly increase their chances of sealing a place in the knockout round, while Germany might be keen to avoid conceding an early goal as they did against France.

Die Mannschaft are the favourites, however, as they have shown more promise than presumed. The midfield has done well to control the game and create chances, and with the backing of the home fans, we are expecting the three-times European champions to narrowly oust the defending champions at the Allianz Arena this weekend.

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