Germany and Portugal, two teams that are considered favourites to win the 2014 edition of the FIFA World Cup, clash on Monday, June 16th at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil. This is arguably the most awaited match in Group G, comprising Germany, Portugal, Ghana and the United States.
Germany has been in top form for the last two World Cups, finishing third, and has bested Portugal the last three times the teams met – at the World Cup 2006, Euro 2008 and Euro 2012. However, German coach Joachim Löw is troubled by injuries to his team. Midfielder Marco Reus is down with an ankle injury he suffered just a few days before the tournament that ensures he will miss this tournament, while midfielder İlkay Gündoğan is suffering from back problems and centre back Holger Badstuber is undergoing knee surgery after tearing his cruciate ligaments. But Germany still have a strong squad, with Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller, Lukas Podolski, Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm. Finally, there’s top scorer Miroslav Klose, for whom this will be the last World Cup. So Germany has a very strong team, known for playing as a unit, and with their performances in the previous World Cups, it’s no surprise that they are being seen as favourites to lift the cup this year.
On the other side, Portugal has one of the best players in the world, Cristiano Ronaldo, on whom high hopes have been pinned for leading Portugal to World Cup victory. There was some tension about Ronaldo’s nagging knee injury, sustained during last season, and even at the training sessions for the World Cup, he was seen with a strap on his left knee. However, even though Ronaldo is currently in his best form and is expected to be given tough competition at a personal level only by Argentina’s Lionel Messi, he cannot assure a Portugal win all by himself. Central midfielder João Moutinho will be looking to turn the tide for Portugal in the central third of the game while the able defence provided by Pepe, Bruno Alves, Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao can create a strong foundation for the Portuguese attackers to bank on. Even Manchester United’s Nani has the skills to change the direction of the game in a moment.
Going by Germany’s last performances in their matches against Portugal, Germany seems the strong contender to win this match as well. Veteran Miroslav Klose, though 36, is still a threat and defensive midfielder Philipp Lahm seems poised to be the perfect foil for the raw power of Cristiano Ronaldo. Germany have won their last six opening World Cup matches, as against Portugal, who have won only one of their last seven World Cup matches. So all things considered, it would be a good idea to bet on Germany.