Germany 1-0 Portugal

It’s an old cliché that the German’s are efficient, but they have every reason to be satisfied with their opening game performance in a 1-0 victory over Portugal this evening.

Germany didn’t produce the football many were expecting as pre-tournament second favourites, but for the first game of a international tournament it was good enough. It was 3 points.

Mario Gomez headed home the only goal of the game on the 72nd minute following Sami Khedira’s deflected right-footed cross. Up to that point the Bayern Munich striker had been quiet and his movement was notably poor. He has since become the bookmakers’ favourite to win the Euro 2012 Golden Boot now but I could genuinely see Miroslav Klose started their next game against the Netherlands.

Thomas Müller delivered good crosses from the right wing for a lot of the game with limited targets in the box and only ended up completing one. Germany looked more threatening down the right hand side against Fabio Coentrao the Portuguese left back. He will be up against the inexperienced Jetro Willems in Germany’s next game with the Dutch full-back liking to bomb forward.

Mesut Özil had a good game in the centre of midfield, often drifting out to the right wing. The Real Madrid playmaker created 4 chances for team mates; none of which were tucked away by team mates. His performance came despite Portugal stuffing three defensive midfielders into their side. Netherlands played 2 in their opening game but looked woeful at defending. If this doesn’t change when they meet Germany on Wednesday Özil can and will tear them apart. Netherlands really need to win that match too, so look for space at the back when they push forward.

After a nervous-looking start, Mats Hummels had a solid game at centre back in only his 15th cap and 12th start for his country. The Borussia Dortmund defender made 6 interceptions, 2 tackles and 10 clearances. He also found a team mate with 77% of his long ball attempts. A confidence-builder for the 23-year old.

Manuel Neuer got distance on his punches from a number of corners and making 3 saves. The most-notable of which came from Silvestre Varela near the end. The FC Porto forward arguably lacked composure firing at Neuer who made an early dive, but a save is a save and it kept the Munich stopper a clean sheet.

Jerome Boateng had a solid game at right back, limiting Cristiano Ronaldo’s chances. Yes, the German defender was often seen backing off the Portuguese forward when the best European footballer was in possession, but the Real Madrid failed to find the net. Mission accomplished. Boateng also made a contender for tackle of the tournament when he slid from behind to take the ball away from Ronaldo who was about to let fire in the penalty area.

Germany remain the favourites for Euro 2012 in my opinion. But we’re yet to see Spain, France or the Republic of Ireland yet…

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