World Cup 2014 – Germany v Portugal: Who do you think you are?

Hello Portugal circa Brazil 2014 World Cup. The Socceroos circa South Africa 2010 World Cup send their regards. They know exactly how you feel.

I wonder if there is a Portuguese equivalent of Craig Foster, seated alongside their respective doyen (Les Murray) of football commentary, absolutely going off his nut.

‘This is NOT Portuguese Football. That’s not how WE play … Bring me the coach’s head in a plum wine sauce with a sour red reduction … Marco says put your finger to your lips, narrow those squinty eyes into a steely glare, assume the approximate stance of someone just about to let one rip, while the poor unfortunate supplicant shits themselves …’


Maybe someone got a little carried away there eh?

There were a handful of matches I was genuinely intrigued by to open the Group Stage, before Brazil 2014 started. I was avidly anticipating Australia’s match of course. And Brazil’s. But this was an emotional involvement over and above any footballing considerations.

I wanted our boys to do well, relatively speaking. And I wanted Brazil to open the Tournament with a flourish worthy of their status. So, one out of two there, with Brazil’s win overshadowed by ‘The Phantom Penalty’ (is the ref from Japan now considered this World Cup’s Jar Jar Binks?).

Looking at the draw though, there were three genuine pedigreed blockbusters in the offing.

– Spain v Netherlands – 2010 World Cup Final rematch.
– Italy v England – European traditional powerhouses resuming hostilities after their redemptive Euro 2012 results went some way to washing away the bitter failures in South Africa 2010.
– Germany v Portugal – on paper, the typically fast-starting Germans’ most difficult assignment to open their World Cup account, since the enigmatic but classy Yugoslavian team at Italia ’90.

Neither of the ‘countries’ who played that day in Milan exist anymore, but it seems the German propensity for putting at least four goals past their opponents’ keeper, in their opening World Cup match, is still going strong.

So, while the Netherlands’ welcome decision to engage Spain in a contest of football – rather than the live-action version of Mortal Kombat™ of South Africa 2010 – resulted in a genuinely jaw-dropping result. Where the arm-wrestle of contrasts, at the gateway to the Amazon jungle between Italy and England, resulted in a lip-curling peach of a match, that was a pleasure to watch. Germany v Portugal was a reminder not to misplace one’s expectations, when a team as clinical as Joachim Lowe’s men is involved.

It started brightly enough, with Portugal creating more opportunities. Then Germany settled into their game, like men at work do. A penalty earned and duly converted – no mess, no fuss. A precise intersection with a perfectly flighted corner, resulted in a bullet-header into the roof of the net. And things were looking grim for Cristiano Ronaldo, his ‘six best friends’, and the rest of his teammates.

Not long after, they stopped ‘looking’ and started ‘being’ as injuries – to starting striker Hugo Almeida and creative left-back Fabio Coêntrao bookended the latest in a long line (cable?) of brain farts from volatile defender Pépe.

A not unusual – I’m ashamed as a footbal fan to say – bit of ham-acting from Mueller, after a fend off from Pépe brushed his chin, brought the red mist in, to cloud the Portuguese player’s well-known, perpetually diminished sense of reason. The referee hadn’t been fooled by Mueller. No foul had been awarded against him, but nevertheless Pépe felt compelled to put his head into the dramatically prone Mueller’s face.

(I’m not gonna call it a headbutt, for fear of encountering some random Scotsman yelling, ‘Yae call that a headbutt do yae? That’s no’ a headbutt lad. Here … [WHACK] … Aye! That’ll do yae!’)

Headbutt or not, Pépe did make contact. Mueller eschewed another fake dive, surging with real rage to his feet. The referee, standing no more than a few feet away saw it all and showed Pépe a different shade of red – the only texture of real consequence in this pitiful contrivance – leaving the perpetually petulant Potuguese with only one destination. The dressing room.

Thus did the powerless Portuguese National Coach, Paolo Bento, watch his team’s infamously volatile spirit dissipate, like smoke through his fingers, as Mueller went on to pound out a hatrick. In the end Germany were kind enough to limit themselves to four servings at what – after the Netherlands put five past Spain there – seems to be a bulging ‘Auld Onion Bag’ buffet in Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador.

And while Portugal, with players like Ronaldo, Nani, Meireles, et al, may point to a still existent gulf in footballing class. After opening Brazil 2014 against Germany like that, they know now, whether it’s class, or industry, 4-0 hammerings feel much the same, no matter who you think you are.


  1. Really enjoying your World Cup reports Gregor. As a lover of fine alliteration “perpetually petulant Portuguese” was a highlight for me.
    Perth is uniquely badly positioned for viewers as the games are at midnight, 3 am and 6am. Hard to do on work days, but I will make the effort on weekends and for the big finals (and the Socceroos).
    On the general play I saw the USA was lucky to get away with the win, but Ghana’s midfield flair did not extend to composure up front.
    Keep ’em coming. Grateful.

  2. Gregor Lewis says

    Thanks for the continued encouragement Peter.

    In an especially timely form of ‘coinkydink’, I had actually only just considered what the comparative viewing times would be out West, bare minutes before reading your comment.

    Deja what now?

    I sympathise mate and completely understand the difficulty. I expect to be positively somnambulant by the time quarter-finals roll ’round.

    Agree with your assessment of Ghana v USA. If that wasn’t your dictionary definition of expeditious efficiency in scoring from Klinsman’s men, then I don’t know the meaning of the words.

    Ghana have only themselves to blame. Tried too hard to finish too pretty. Worked once – and what a peach that goal from Ayew was – but Asamoah Gyan needs to worry less about carving pretty numbers into his hair. He should pay rather more attention to carving a path through Germany’s tall timber next game.

    Still, if Hummels is declared unfit to start, a German team change might precipitate a chance for Gyan, if he sharpens up enough to take advantage of it … We’ll see.

    Alliteration eh? I must admit, I enjoy writing most when I can incorporate a bit of rhythm & melody. If you liked that one, you might enjoy my description of Japan’s Keisuke Honda. If the muse hits me over the head in either of their next two matches, I’ll try to work it in somewhere.

    That’s the key thing Peter. Fortunately, overwhelming majority of matches have given me a bevy of beauties to draw inspiration from. Hopefully it continues …


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