Germany 4 Portugal 0: Germany coach Joachim Low hails 'dangerous' Thomas Muller following 'magnificent' hat-trick

Muller is now up to eight World Cup goals after his treble

Thomas Muller has already got Germans dreaming of winning an elusive fourth World Cup after he stole Cristiano Ronaldo’s thunder with a hat-trick in yesterday’s Group G opening match against Portugal in Salvador.

Muller’s treble in the impressive 4-0 success continued the remarkable World Cup scoring rate of the Bayern Munich forward who had previously hit five goals at the 2010 finals to win the Golden Shoe, yet he declared afterwards that he was more interested in the ultimate prize. “We are here to be world champions and not to break records,” he said.

Germany have gone 18 years without a major trophy and Muller’s ambitious statement echoed the headline in yesterday morning’s Kicker magazine which had quoted the same player as saying ”We’re here to do something big”. His subsequent performance in front of watching German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested a determination to live up to those words.

Muller is a popular figure in Germany – known for his sense of humour and straight talking – but it was his football qualities that coach Joachim Low praised as the dust settled at the Arena Fonte Nova yesterday. Low hailed not just the 24-year-old’s goalscoring ability but also his selfless and intelligent running after he shone on his 50th appearance in a position he seldom fills for Bayern. “Thomas Muller with his magnificent performance ran around a lot and created a lot of pressure,” said Low.

“He is a very unorthodox player and you can't really predict his lines of running, but he has one aim and that is: 'How can I score a goal?' That makes him so dangerous, especially in the box.”

Low’s own tactical approach warranted praise. His attacking choices had the desired impact – Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was one of two wide forwards playing off Muller – and so too his decision to field central defenders Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Howedes in the full-back positions. “Boateng was outstanding against [Cristiano] Ronaldo,“ said Low.

Ronaldo, far from his sharpest after his recent injury, found himself a helpless observer as Germany built up a 3-0 half-time lead against opponents reduced to ten men by Pepe’s 37th-minute red card.

Low even praised his team’s efficiency – words to make those with memories of past German triumphs shudder. “We made four goals out of five or six opportunities,” he noted. The end result was Germany won their opening World Cup match for the seventh tournament running.

Meanwhile, Portugal coach Paulo Bento may face disciplinary action by FIFA after suggesting that Serbian referee Milorad Mazic was biased against the Portuguese. “There were some things where there seemed to be some bias toward Germany, I am talking about Pepe being sent off and the penalty [awarded for Muller’s 12-minute opener].”

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