UEFA EURO2012™: Group B Review — Germany vs. Portugal

June 9, 2012

Sports

The second of two matches on the opening day of Group B play, the mighty Germans, led by their talismanic midfield-engine in Bayern Munich‘s Bastian Schweinsteigerwent toe-to-toe with Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Portugal.  Many football critics have heaped an intense amount of expectation on the young Germans, whose performance in the FIFA World Cup 2010™ in South Africa left much to be desired in the trophy-department.  Germany has incredible talent from top-to-bottom: from their world-class ‘keeper Manuel Neuer, to captain Philipp Lahm at left-back and Borussia Dortmund‘s Mats Hummels in the center of defense, to Mesut Ozil patrolling midfield, to Mario Gomez spearheading their attack.  On paper, this German team should be considered a serious contender to hoist the trophy at tournament’s end.  But, as we all know, tournaments aren’t won on paper.

And so, the Germans faced the first of three great teams within their group:  Portugal.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s only scored 3 international goals in major competitions, would surely be well-prepared to make a case to not just lead his nation to EURO glory, but to cement himself as the best overall player in the world.  In their own right, this Portuguese squad boasts a wealth of talent and experience itself:  Rui Patricio between the pipes, Bruno Alves and Pepe at center-back, Champions’ League winner Raul Meireles and Porto’s Joao Moutinho in midfield, and Manchester United’s Nani on the right wing.

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Germany v. Portugal

For an unbiased fan watching the game from the beginning, it could be said that the Germans were the stronger team throughout.  Bayern Munich striker Mario Gomez, on the other hand, seemed to have followed in his club-mate Arjen Robben‘s footsteps by continuing a hangover from Bayern’s defeat to Chelsea in the UEFA Champions’ League final.  Gomez again was poor in finishing, albeit creating a handful of opportunities.  Some would claim the striker could have tallied a hat-trick on another day with the same chances.  Portugal was stern in defense, limiting the Germans’ attacks as best they could.  Real Madrid’s Mesut Ozil was a key contributor to all German progression into the final-third of the pitch, as Bastian Schweinsteiger played his typical orchestral role in midfield by greatly controlling the tempo match, and by the looks of it, had put the misery of the missed penalty-kick at the Allianz Arena behind him.

German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger moving past a duo of Portuguese defenders

The Portuguese had their own chances going forward.  Cristiano Ronaldo displayed his usual finesse on the left-flank as Helder Postiga tried to make the best of any opportunity with the ball at his feet.  Portugal’s best chance of the day undoubtedly came in the 45th minute as a Portuguese corner-kick fell to Pepe, who in turn blasted a right-footed effort off the underside of the crossbar which bounced onto the goal-line and back out into play.  The fifth officials did well not to award a goal, as replays showed the ball never did entirely cross the line. With such luck, Germany’s Manuel Neuer just never seemed like he was to be beaten on the day.  This was to be the case in the first-half, at least, as the two European powerhouses each went into halftime scoreless.

Portugal center-back Pepe (Real Madrid CF) puts an effort onto the underside of the crossbar, only to bounce off the goal-line and spin back into play. Replays confirmed the referees were correct in not awarding a goal.

It was the second half that saw most of the action from both teams take place.  Both nations showed a bit more tenacity and such courage finally paid off for the Germans in the 72nd minute.  A cross from Real Madrid midfielder Sami Khedira took a deflection off a Portuguese defender and striker Mario Gomez did exceptionally well to adjust and put the ball onto his head and direct it into the lower-right corner, just past the reach of Rui Patricio, to break the deadlock and put the Germans ahead 1-0.  Interestingly, legendary German striker Miroslav Klose was on the touchline ready to enter into the contest on his 34th birthday just as Gomez placed his header into the back of the net.  Germany coach Joachim Loew said after the match that he was prepared to take Gomez off the pitch even before he had scored the game-winner, then decided to leave Gomez on for a few minutes following, which nearly paid dividends once again just before Klose’s inclusion in the 80th minute.

Germany striker Mario Gomez celebrates heading home the eventual game-winning goal, en route to a 1-0 victory over Portugal.

Former FIFA World Player of the Year™ Cristiano Ronaldo had not made much of an impact until the latter stages of the contest, though this was predominantly from his pace and ability to spread the field.  He and Nani both brought the Portuguese forward with conviction, which almost paid off when an errant, swinging cross from Nani clanged off the top of the crossbar just above Neuer’s reach.  Substitute Silvestre Varela had a golden chance in the 89th, but only managed to put the ball right into the arms of the waiting German netminder.  CR7 will feel he could have made a much larger contribution to the team, as he only managed but a few chances on target.

Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo again failed to really impress on the big stage for his country, as his adversary in the “Best Player in the World” argument (L. Messi) simultaneously tallied a hat-trick in a World Cup qualifier vs. Brazil.

As such, the game came to its conclusion a 1-0 victory for the Germans.  Whether it was the gall of Germany or its impending size and strength that did the Portuguese in, as it had in recent years past, Schweinsteiger & Co. showed the rest of Group B that they are a major contender to not only advance out of the dreaded Group of Death, but to make a run at the EURO2012™ Championship.

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About raymondbolduc

A 24-year-old from Rhode Island [USA] simply seizing the opportunity to share my thoughts with you and the rest of the world. I hope you enjoy my material.

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