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Tactical Analysis

World Cup Tactical Analysis: Germany 4-0 Portugal

Controlling. Quick. Decisive. Dominant.

Undisciplined. Slow. Sloppy. Subordinate.

This game really was a tale of two sides: one prepared for the World Cup and one completely ill-prepared for the same occasion. It was utter euphoria for the Germans and utter embarrassment for the Portuguese. Thomas Müller registered a hat trick with Hummels grabbing the other of Germany’s four goals. Portugal never looked like they had even shown up to the game.


Germany Portugal Tactics

Germany (4-3-3): Neuer, Höwedes, Hummels (Mustafi 73’), Mertesacker, Boateng, Lahm, Kroos, Khedira, Götze, Ozil (Shürrle 63′), Müller (Podolski ’82).

Portugal (4-3-3): Patricio , Coentrão (A. Almeida 65′), Alves, Pepe (Red Card 37’), Pereira, Moutinho, Meireles, Veloso (Costa 45′), Ronaldo, Nani, H. Almeida (Eder 28′)

Goals: Müller 12, 45, 78; Hummels 32′


Incisive Germany

Germany will be unique in this tournament as they are going to play most of their games without a recognized striker in the squad. The false nine has become very fashionable in recent years but very few sides have made it look quite so appealing as Germany did against Portugal. With Müller central and Götze and Ozil either side of him, Germany’s front three terrorized the back line of Portugal. Their running was unpredictable but very sharp and the midfield 3 of Lahm, Khedira and Kroos were more than happy to reward the running with accurate passes out of the midfield and supporting runs forward, especially from Khedira.



Germany exposed Bruno Alves and Pepe on a number of occasions, with the penalty in the 12th minute and the incident that led to Pepe’s sending off in the 37th both coming from accurate passes that put Portugal under pressure. On the night, Germany completed 88% of their passes and it was the scything passes forward that found Portugal’s defense lacking. While it was Müller who grabbed the goals, Götze and Ozil, and later on Schürrle all looked capable of scoring and if not for a couple blocked shots, Götze would have.

The Berlin Wall

Germany’s defense have to receive some of the credit for Portugal’s horrendous attacking display today. It all starts with a firm foundation with Mertesacker and Hummels in the middle of the back line with Hummels even contributing to the scoring with a bullet of a header off a German corner in the 32nd minute. Boateng played very well on the right for the Germans, keeping Ronaldo quiet and also storming forward in the early stages of the game. Knowing Ronaldo wouldn’t be doing much tracking back, he exploited the space in behind and caused problems for Coentrão who was left alone. Höwedes was great in a slightly unfamiliar position on the left. This area was a question mark for Germany heading into the tournament and the question looks answered.

Aside from them, Lahm was great in defensive midfield. Very assured of his passing and mopped up in front of the back four when he was needed. This type of defending will help Germany quite a bit in a tournament where even the top teams have looked suspect on defense.

Has Anyone Seen Cristiano Ronaldo?

Well last night at the Maracana, we saw a world class player step up to the occasion and he almost singlehandedly drag his team to victory. Today, we saw a world class player get frustrated with his teammates and essentially stopped playing. Statistically, he did not have a bad game. He completed 84% of his passes and had 7 shots but only 2 of those were on target (according to Squawka). From there it gets a little worse as he only created one chance and just as many take-ons. He also had just a couple of touches in the penalty area the whole match and they led to a shot but it was ultimately tame and Neuer held it. Is it fair to put so much on Ronaldo’s shoulders? For Real Madrid, I would say no. However, Almeida is not Benzema, Nani is not Bale, and Pepe is…well you get the point.

Suffice it to say that when you are considered one of the best players on the planet and you don’t pull your team up when they aren’t at their best, then you have to seriously look at yourself. He will have to pick himself up from this performance or Portugal could be due for a very early exit.

Portuguese (lack of) Cohesion

I will not say too much about Portugal’s attitude but it had such a negative impact on the team that it is hard not to. The discipline obviously was tested with Pepe’s headbutt however it was more apparent in the lack of cohesion both going forward and defending. On the attack, Portugal seemed to be out of sync. Ronaldo, Nani, and Almeida (and Eder after Almeida left with a knock) are all talented players in their own right but they could not find each other in dangerous areas. This was in distinct juxtaposition to the Germans who seemed almost telepathic in their understandings between the attacking players. This lack of cohesion was even more pronounced in defense with the Germans regularly finding space in behind and Bruno Alves being particularly exposed.


Thomas Müller. Hard to argue with a hat-trick at the World Cup and this was a master-class from a positive German side. Müller always seems to pop up at the right times for Germany and the joint top-scorer at the 2010 World Cup looks well on pace to add even more to his already impressive scoring record. Helped largely by the attack minded players around him, Müller allows chances to be created for himself with his movement into the box and ability to be clinical while give the opportunity. He is Germany’s secret weapon with his type of player not present in other competing teams.


Germany will have favored themselves in this game and will be happy that they’ve exceeded anyone’s expectations with an absolutely dominant win. They will almost certainly advance having gotten past the most talented team in the group and their main contenders for top spot.

Meanwhile, Portugal are at sea. They will not be shocked they have lost to Germany, but a -4 goal difference to start a World Cup is not ideal by any stretch. And with Pepe out of the next game against the USA and Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrão injured and their starting place in question for the next game, Portugal will now be desperate for results and will need to come prepared to play against the USA and Ghana.

Read all our World Cup content here

Philip Baki

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