Group of death, pt 1

The Iberian Peninsula was already smarting from Spain's humiliation at the hands of the Dutch, several days ago, when Portugal played Germany yesterday in the so-called Group of Death.

As an unrelated thought, I'm not loving the German jerseys.  The 1990 German World Cup jerseys are probably my favorite jerseys of all time, but I'm at best indifferent to the current ones.

Be that as it may, the game started with Germany taking the ball, and engaging in a very long feeling-out period, where they weren't finding much in the way of openings.  And after a few minutes, it got more even, as Portugal got the ball and fed Ronaldo as much as they could.

He had a couple decent chances, but wasn't getting much in the way of support, while the Germans were maintaining their composure and continuing to push, offensively.

They had one pretty good chance when the Portuguese goalie came out to play the ball, and fed it right to Khedira, just outside of the box.  Sami couldn't put the shot on net, though, so a great chance was wasted.

A few minutes later, Pereira was carded for a foul in the box.  It seemed a pretty obvious foul to me; enough that I was surprised it was only a yellow, but the Portuguese still argued it vociferously.  But it was not retracted, and Mueller got a kick from the spot.  Unsurprisingly, he had no trouble converting, and the Germans started celebrating.

The Portuguese got another chance in the 25th, but Nani put it a hair over the top of the net.

Hummels extended the lead seven minutes later; the defender Alves missed a cross coming off a corner kick, and Hummels came in right behind him to head it into the net.

Five minutes after that was where the train went entirely off the rails for the Portuguese.  Going for a header, Pepe struck Mueller across the mouth (probably accidentally).  Mueller went down, complaining (it probably hurt, but he certainly made the most of it).  The ref didn't immediately make a call at all, so I was very surprised when, a minute later, he was showing Pepe a red card.

The replay showed that Pepe saw Mueller down there holding his jaw, and walked over, put his head against Mueller's, and complained about Mueller's complaint.  Very odd, and complete, loss of composure.

From that point on, the Germans basically had the run of the field.  It took them another eight or nine minutes to score, but they were threatening with regularity by then.  The goal came when Mueller, at the top of the box, blocked an attempted clear, and then kicked it past the surprised goaltender.

And that's pretty much how the second half played out.  The Portuguese had the odd threat by Nani or Ronaldo (both played very good games, despite the rest of the team.  In fact, it was the best game I'd seen by Nani in at least a year), but mostly the Germans were controlling the play and threatening at will.  The only thing really odd was that Ronaldo was never subbed out to prevent injury.

It might have had something to do with Coentrao getting injured in the 65th minute; that used their third substitution.  Hard to say.

In any event, Ronaldo did his best, but it wasn't nearly good enough (nor would anyone's best, I think).

The final score came in the 78th, when a cross by Schuerrle deflected off the goalie's hand, and right to Mueller's feet.  Reacting with impressive speed, Mueller kicked it in without worrying that he'd fall over from the effort.

All in all, an impressive effort from the Germans, and a pretty terrible day for Portugal.  As I said, Ronaldo and Nani looked very good, but the rest of the team was quite bad.

And things don't look great for the Lusitanians, going forward, as Pepe and Coentrao will be unavailable against the Americans (and Coentrao might not be for Ghana, either; I don't believe that is yet known).  Portugal's chances of advancing do not look good.

Germany, on the other hand, should win the group pretty handily, barring them taking someone lightly.  I'll talk about the rest of the group's chances in a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment