GERMANY 4-0 PORTUGAL
Monday 16th June 2014
(featured commentary on @talkingtikitaka)
Germany goals: Muller x3, Hummels
Arena Fonte Nova is the home to ‘Esporte Clube Bahia’, a team located in Salvador whose stadium holds around 51,000 fans. Last night, the stadium entertained it’s second game of the World Cup, it would take a big ask to follow up from Friday night’s thriller between Spain and Netherlands which ended in a 5-1 thrashing to Van Gaal’s men but yesterday’s encounter between Germany and Portugal didn’t disappoint.
The Group D favourites Germany were looking to pick up a big 3 points against arguably their toughest opposition in the group, this was Ronaldo 112th appearance for the national side and it is important that he shines on the world stage as he has a point to prove. But, that didn’t seem the case as the second largest country in the Iberian Peninsula followed the Spanish footsteps suffering in heavy defeat. The heavily awaited match saw Bayern Munich’s attacking playmaker Thomas Muller take to the stage where he was looking to increase his tally of scoring 3 goals in his previous 3 world cup matches. There was some doubt as to who would start the game before hand upfront as Joachim Loew had only decided to take one recognised striker in Miroslav Klose after he dropped Kevin Volland when the 30man squad was reduced to 23 but it was clear that Muller was going to be Germany’s number 9 impressing on the world stage against a strong Portuguese side with a solid hat-trick.
The match resulted in a series of key defensive errors by the Portuguese defence and sparks of individual brilliance by the German attackers. Portugal struggled to threat Manuel Neuer and the German defence in the game, there were signs of intent but it never seemed to materialise, such as Ronaldo’s 30-yard strike in the 5th minute and the odd shot from Eder but other than that, Germany remained in complete control. Germany’s first chance came on the 8th minute after an error by highly rated goalkeeper Rui Patricio whose clearance catastrophically went straight to Sami Khedira who had a shot from 25 yards on an open net but fortunately his shot went wide, this was just the sign of things to come for Portugal and this was imminent as Mario Gotze was brought down in the 8th minute gifting a penalty for Germany. This was easily slotted away by Thomas Muller. Germany continued to mount the pressure on the Portuguese defence but the backline of Pepe and Bruno Alves were seemingly appearing to look fairly strong.
Portugal were starting to get into the game with attempts from Nani and Ronaldo but there good play was disrupted by injuries to Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao. (It has been confirmed in the last few hours that Fabio Coentrao will miss the rest of the World Cup) But, any attacks by Portugal were abruptly stopped quickly resulting in a creative counter attack by Germany. This led to the 2nd goal for Germany where they received a corner which was headed in by Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels. Things went from bad to worse for Portugal as minutes later the World Cup saw its 3rd sending off, this time for defender Pepe after intentionally going in for a headbutt on Thomas Muller.
The first half became a nightmare for Paulo Bento’s men when Muller before the half time break made it 3-0, leaving Ronaldo and co helpless. Germany had ran riot. Portugal had to make up for being reduced to 10 men by bringing on a defensive substitute in Ricardo Costa which seemed to tighten up the defence as Germany struggled to ease past their defence like they had towards the end of the first half. Joachim Loew was eager for more goals as he brought on Premier League wingers Andre Schurrle (62nd minute) and Lukas Podolski (81st minute). Thomas Muller made it four and secured his 2nd hat-trick in this competition as Germany dominated Portugal. It was a key victory for them as they secured a big 4-0 win in what seemed to be the toughest obstacle of their group.
Germany are 2nd in the world rankings currently, will they be top by the end of the tournament, you would think so after an impressive 4-0 victory over the ‘4th best team in the world’. Germany face Ghana (36th in the world) and then USA (13th) in Group G who knows, there could easily be two more huge scorelines in the offing… Scary
IRAN 0-0 NIGERIA
Monday 16th June 2014
One for the purists? Or just one to forget?It’s probably about right that we were due a an underwhelming showdown between two countries, after such a goal fuelled start to the 2014 a World Cup. Prior to the Group F opener between Iran and Nigeria, not one had draw had happened in the twelve group games and as many predicted, this was to be the game that brought the first stalemate of the tournament. Unlucky game ’13’ you could say…
African champions Nigeria looked to build on their continental success with the likes of Onazi, Musa and Moses hoping to make the same impact in the World Cup. As for Iran, the recently relegated Ashkan Dejagah of Fulham looked to impose himself as their main attacking threat against an inform Vincent Enyeama of Lille. Nigeria’s pace early on caused problems for Iran but Nigeria’s inability to provide the decisive ball in the final third restricted any chance of a goal despite promising starts by their front three. Both keepers were then forced into action, stopping chances from set pieces with the speculative freekick from Ahmed Musa a highlight of the first half. However the game trickled to a boring score draw with little to suggest anything was to change any time soon.
As the second half got underway not even Nigeria’s second substitution of the game and the arrival of the man we’d all been waiting for, Newcastle United legend Shola Ameobi, could breathe any life into the game, after replacing the disappointing Victor Moses. Yet even still, the introduction of Ameobi did little to change the quality of the match and Nigeria manager Stephen Keshi didn’t hesitate to make his final change, again early in the second half with Peter Odemwingie entering the field of play for Ramon Azeez. Iran continued to sit back and offer little in attack, frustrating Nigeria with a style of play never designed to gain anything from the match. The likes of Emenike could maybe out-muscle the Iranian defence and Odemwingie outwitting the Iran centre backs but as the game slowly progressed, it became clear it’d take some out of this world for either team to take anything from the game.
Although Odemwingie continued to threaten, Nigeria struggled to make any impact against a side they’d expected to have beaten. As the full time whistle sounded, boos could be heard from the travelling Nigeria support whilst Carlos Queiroz and his Iran team can be proud of their showing and their gaining of a historical point. For a nation who aren’t even allowed to swap shirts at the end of the game due to lack of funding, Iran will hold their heads high yet it will seemingly be the opposite for Nigeria. Bosnia on the other hand will watch on knowing they themselves have a really big chance to qualify in what would also make history for a nation participating in their first ever World Cup finals.
GHANA 1-2 USA
Monday 16th June 2014
Ghana goal: A.Ayew
USA goals: Dempsey, Brooks
Without being too insulting to the professionals that took to the stage for Iran and Nigeria in the game preceding the final game of the evening, there was already much more drama, excitement and better quality of football on show after a mere 31 seconds. In a repeat of the 2010 knockout round game between the two sides, the USA set out to take revenge after Ghana’s victory in South Africa led to a run where they were cruelly knocked out with an Asamoah Gyan penalty and ‘that’ Luis Suarez handball living firm in the memory not just of Ghanaians and Uruguay fans but also in the minds of anybody who took an interest in the last World Cup. USA boss Jurgen Klinsmann named a strong side with the likes of Dempsey and Altidore leading the line for the Americans.
Ghana on the other hand opted to play Juventus defensive midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah in his secondary position at left back whilst midfield pairing and the foundation of their 2010 side Kevin Prince Boateng and Michael Essien had to make do with the substitute bench. There was however starting positions for captain Asamoah Gyan who looked to erase the past and make history in Brazil. And as previously mentioned it less than a minute for the first goal. Following the kick-off, it was Jermaine Jones who kicked the ball upfield and provided Clint Dempsey with a perfect opportunity to get the game well and truly underway in USA’s favour, slotting into the bottom right hand corner and putting America 1-0 up. And after such a quick start, the drama did eventually die down with the USA looked in complete control with two injuries to the two USA strikers being the main talking points of the rest of the first period.
A kick to the face led to Clint Dempsey heralding a bloody nose for some time whilst what looked like torn hamstring looks set to sideline Jozy Altidore for the rest of the tournament. Both sides came close with Jordan Ayew looking most deadly for Ghana but neither team could get the decisive goal and ultimately USA went in at half time 1-0 up, with the fifth quickest goal in World Cup history separating both sides.
A rejuvenated Ghana re-entered the field of play in the second half and their re-entry starkly contrasted of their first half showing. The likes of Muntari and both Ayew’s began to see more opportunities and chances at goal as Ghana looked increasingly likely to get an equalising goal as the USA made defensive changes with a Brooks entering the field of play for the USA. Ghana brought on former Portsmouth and AC Milan midfielder Boateng to partner Muntari who he’s partnered at both clubs as they further continued to push the Americans back and after a dominant period of play they got their reward.
As the game crept over the 80 minute mark, Andre Ayew’s left footed shot in the centre of the box caught USA goalkeeper Tim Howard off guard after a solid half keeping the Ghanian attack at bay, and Ghana got their deserved equaliser. At 1-1 the game was nicely poised with nine minutes remaining and it could have gone either way with Ghana looking the more obvious candidates to get the all important winner. Yet as all football fans surely know and have encountered as part of the game, sometimes it’s hard to expect what will happen next. On the grand scene of things you’d expect Ghana to take the momentum from such an important late goal and snatch a victory. But the outcome couldn’t be any more the opposite. The USA immediately found a lease of life they’d lacked so much at times in the second half and with three minutes left on the clock, Hertha Berlin substitute John Brooks leapt from Zusi’s corner and powerfully headed home to hand the USA all three points. And who said the USA didn’t take football seriously?
Elation throughout the ground from the strong travelling USA support confirmed all three points were going to the USA and it will now be interesting to see how the USA push on from this with an all important tie against Portugal looking set to be the decider in regard to who’ll qualify alongside favourites Germany in Group G.