After Spain’s surrender to Dutch, all hopes were pinned on Germany to end the European teams’ curse of not winning a World Cup in South America. Germany begin their World Cup campaign against their group G rivals Portugal. All eyes will be on the 2014 Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo as he leads his side to secure the top spot in the group. This match at Salvador has already created a lots of eagerness among the fans.

Team News:

Manuel Neuer is ready to take the field against Portugal after missing the warm-up’s due to a shoulder injury. Bastian Schweinsteiger will be available despite being airlifted for 60km to treat a foot injury. Their only issue in the playing XI is to choose a candidate to replace Marco Reus in the left wing. Reus was injured in the warm-up match against Armenia and his former Borussia Dortmund teammate Mario Gotze is likely to fill in his shoes.

On the other hand, Portugal has been sweating on the fitness of their star player Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo who is carrying a knee problem for the past few weeks was dented with a thigh injury last week leaving huge doubts about his participation in the World Cup. However, Portugal coach Paulo Bento cleared the air and declared that Ronaldo will play against Germany and there are no injury scares in his camp.

Line Ups:

Germany (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Lahm, Boateng, Mertesacker, Durm; Khedira, Schweinsteiger; Muller, Ozil, Gotze; Klose.

Portugal (4-3-3): Patricio; Coentrao, Alves, Pepe, Pereira; Veloso, Meireles, Moutinho; Nani, Ronaldo, Almeida.

Key Battles:

Portuguese Wingers vs German Fullbacks:

Cristiano Ronaldo is the one who channels the attack for Portugal from left side of the pitch. He gets the backing of Portugal’s right winger Nani. Both these players have enormous pace and skills to breach any defence. The German full-backs Phillip Lahm and Eric Durm will have their task cut out when they collide against Ronaldo and Nani respectively. Lahm has been one of the greatest right-back of his generation will face an ultimate test against Ronaldo and the winner of this battle will decide the outcome of the match.

Joao Moutinho vs Bastian Schweinsteiger:

When Sweden faced Portugal in the World Cup qualifying playoffs, it was all about two men Cristiano Ronaldo and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Both played their heart out and in the Ronaldo prevailed over Ibra’s Sweden. Ronaldo later admitted that if not for the passes from Joao Moutinho, he couldn’t have taken his team to Brazil. So it is certain that Moutinho too is equally dangerous during attacks. Bayern Munich’s Bastian Schweinsteiger holds the key to stop Moutinho to supply long balls to Ronaldo during attack.

Stats:

  • Germany’s opening game at the 2014 World Cup against Portugal will be their 100th in the competition, they are the first team to reach that tally in the competition.

  • Germany have only lost one of their last 18 games in the group stages of the World Cup, it was against Serbia on 18 June 2010 (0-1), winning 13 and drawing four

  • Germany scored more goals than any other team in the 2014 European World Cup qualifiers (36).

  • Joao Moutinho delivered more assists than any other player in the 2014 European World Cup qualifiers (10).

  • Portugal have only won one of their last seven games at the World Cup (7-0 v North Korea in 2010), drawing three and losing three.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo has scored only two goals at the World Cup.

  • Miroslav Klose currently has 14 World Cup goals, just one behind Brazil’s Ronaldo.