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The German national football team kicked off its FIFA World Cup campaign with an impressive four goal triumph over Portugal. This victory came without star midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who spent the game on the bench despite Joachim Loew’s previous assertions that the midfielder was fully fit. Fortunately for the Germans, Loew was able to fill the gap left by Schweinsteiger by playing Lahm as a defensive midfielder in front of Boateng, Hummels, Mertesacker and Howedes. This lineup will likely undergo changes when Schweinsteiger returns to full match fitness, but it proved capable of dealing with the threatening Portuguese attack for the full 90 minutes.
Portugal opened the match capably, and had a few chances early on, most notably a shot by Cristiano Ronaldo in the eighth minute of play. However, things would take a turn for the worse when Jao Pereira was given a yellow card for fouling Mario Goetze inside the Portuguese box, prompting a penalty which Mueller converted to give Germany a one goal lead in the 11th minute. This Group G matchup of the FIFA World Cup would go even farther in Germany’s favor in the 32nd minute, when Mats Hummels converted a corner from Toni Kroos to put Germany up by two goals.
These two early goals by Germany in their first match of this year’s FIFA World Cup was causing frustration among the Portuguese players, and this frustration was demonstrated when Pepe head-butted Thomas Mueller in the 37th minute, prompting referee M.Mazic to brandish a red card and eject Pepe from the match. This red card meant that not only would Portugal have to face Germany with only ten men for the remainder of the game, but they will now have to face the United States of America without Pepe in their next game of the FIFA World Cup.
The impact that Pepe’s red card would have on the game was quickly demonstrated, when Mueller scored his second goal of the match one minute into the added time at the end of the first half. The goal came after Bruno Alves failed to clear the ball from the Portuguese box, as Mueller was quick to take advantage and put the ball into the back of the net. The second half of the match saw a pair of significant injuries, with Fabio Coentrao forced to come off in the 63rd minute, and Mats Hummels forced to leave in the 73rd. Both of these injuries could have huge impacts on their respective teams, although the severity of the injuries remains to be determined.
Mueller completed his hat trick in the 78th minute, tapping home the rebound of a shot by Andre Schurrle for his third goal of the match, giving Germany a commanding four goal lead that they would hold for the remainder of the match. This four goal victory is significant in that it puts Germany at the top of Group G, and Portugal at the bottom with a goal differential of negative four. This goal differential could very well impact Portugal’s ability to advance from the group stages of this year’s FIFA World Cup, although the number of fixtures still remaining makes it impossible to determine exactly how much of an impact it will have.
By Nicholas Grabe