By 5pm today at Arena Fonte Nova, Germany, one of the most efficient sides in World football take on Portugal a country blessed with tough tackling defenders, fleet footed wingers and the best footballer in the world.
On paper, this is set to be a cagey affair with both teams looking to open their campaigns with a win and Paolo Bento set to test Joachim Low’s tactical nonce to the fullest.
The Portuguese side will go into today’s match knowing that their talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo isn’t 100 percent and will be depending on the pace and trickery of Manchester United man Nani which as recent evidence suggests has been a major attacking outlet for Portugal, Miguel Veloso and Joao Mutinho both have the ability to hold the forth at the center of midfield but against a German onslaught their lack of pace could be exposed as well as their timing of the challenge. Going forward however, Moutinho’s ability to pass the ball remains a fear factor for the German defense. In defense, Pepe and Bruno Alves have formed what is one of the most solid central defensive pairings in the world with tough tackling, shot blocking, aerial presence and an ability to mark players tightly. How they cope with the Pace of Podolski and the positional play of Klose will go a long way in determining the outcome of this match.
For Germany the fitness of Manuel Neuer has been a concern for weeks with news suggesting that he’ll be fit, even if he isn’t, Durtmund man, Weidenfeller will be a suitable replacement. In Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, Germany have two center backs who have played at the highest level but concerns will be raised as they don’t seem to complement each other and both have been accuesd of losing concentration on more than one occasion during big matches, a case may be made for Mertesacker to play alongside Hummels but his lack of pace could be his undoing against what is a fast Portuguese side. In the midfield Germany is well equipped with the technical ability of Schweinsteiger and Kroos and Khedira’s tough tackling to go with Gotze’s eye for a pass and Julian Draxlers trickery and Muller’s directness, any team will have trouble coping with the Germans and if recent form is anything to go by, Ozil will not get a place on the starting line up, if however he does and he finds the form that made him a global phenomenon at the last world cup, Portugal could be in for a torrid time. Klose is the second highest goal scorer of all time in world cup history with 14 goals from 17 games, need I say more?
This match has the tendency to make ore mar the campaigns of both teams involved but it promises to be a cracker and one for the neutrals to enjoy.