The 2014 World Cup is now at full speed and promises even greater excitement on Monday when Germany lock horns with Portugal at the Fonte Nova arena.
There are still doubts about Cristiano Ronaldo's fitness after he limped out of Thursday’s practice just one day after his successful return against the Republic of Ireland. The Real Madrid forward walked off the pitch with an ice pack on his left knee, suggesting that his tendinitis is not yet fully healed. The former Manchester United player has had plenty of knee and thigh problems during the pre-tournament friendlies and missed two warm-up matches.
Portugal players and staff though insist that there is nothing to worry about but this whole situation must be causing a serious headache to manager Paulo Bento as Ronaldo has proven to be an invaluable member for the team during the qualifiers.
Germany manager Joachim Low on the other hand is dealing with bigger problems as Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus sustained an ankle injury in the team’s last friendly and has been ruled out of the entire competition. Nevertheless, everyone else has been deemed fit to play, especially Arsenal’s attacking midfielder Mesut Ozil despite an injury earlier in the season.
KICK-OFF: Monday, 5pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Germany 1 (Gomez) Portugal 0, Euro Championships, June 2012
Portugal 2(Gomes, Postiga) Germany 3 (Schweinsteiger, Klose, Ballack), Euro Championships, June 2008
Germany 3 (Schweinsteiger 2, Petit og) Portugal 1 (Gomes), World Cup, July 2006
Portugal: Group G team profile
Portugal: Group G team profile
1/5 How they qualified
Portugal had a fairly easy task on hand against the likes of Russia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Northern Ireland and Luxembourg during the qualifiers but eventually failed to advance. A home loss to Russia and three draws led the favorites to second place albeit scoring 20 goals and conceding nine. Portugal then had the daunting task of facing Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden at the play-offs – which was a situation that could have gone either way. The Selescao won 1-0 at home but the second leg at Stockholm proved to be the biggest nail-biter of the play-offs as it took a Ronaldo hat trick to book his country’s tickets to Brazil with a 3-2 victory.
Paulo Bento played for Portugal at the 2002 World Cup alongside many legends such as Luis Figo. As a manager, he proved to be able to take the national team far, as Portugal made it to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 under his management. However, he will have to be careful not to repeat the same mistakes he committed at the qualifiers.
3/5 Star player
Cristiano Ronaldo is undoubtedly the team’s heart and soul as thanks to his goals in both play-off matches, Portugal were able to make it to another World Cup. This was a memorable season for CR7 as he won the Champions League as well as the Copa del Rey with Real Madrid, finished as the top scorer of La Liga with 31 goals and was awarded the Ballon d’Or. His incredible skills and athleticism could turn a few matches into a one man show.
4/5 Emerging talent
William Carvalho has only played two matches for Portugal but is already making the papers as possibly the next man to grace Manchester United’s midfield. Thanks to the 22-year-old’s brilliant passing skills and excellent positioning, the Sporting Lisbon star has been established as the team’s starting defensive midfielder.
5/5 How they will line up: (4-3-3)
Beto; Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao; Meireles, Carvalho, Moutinho; Nani, Almeida, Ronaldo.
Both sides have played a total of nine times – before and after the Berlin Wall. Germany won the lion share of five matches whereas Portugal only won one game in the Euro 2000.
Both teams were undefeated in their last three warm-up matches but Portugal finished second in their qualifying group behind Russia and had to overcome Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Sweden in the play-offs.
Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time top scorer of Portugal with 49 goals in 111 international appearances.
Germany striker Miroslav Klose became the top scorer in Germany’s history when he scored his 69 goal against Armenia. He now has a golden opportunity to make history and become the all-time top scorer in World Cup history as he is just two goals away from surpassing Brazilian star Ronaldo.
Germany to win: 11.1
Portugal to win: 29.1
TV: Live on ITV at 5pm