The so-called Group of Death in the World Cup kicks off on Monday when Germany faces Portugal in Salvador at Arena Fonte Nova. This is expected to be a battle between the two teams that get out of Group G. Both teams have battled injuries in the last few weeks with most of the attention on Cristiano Ronaldo. He has declared himself fit, which will set the stage for one of the most intriguing games in the group stage.
Ronaldo let everyone know that he was ready to go. He said he would be the first person to tell the coach if he was unable to play and is still wearing a wrap on the left knee. Jerome Boateng may get the call on the right for Germany and it would not be a surprise if he is a bit physical with one of the biggest stars in the game. The recovering German midfield will also have the task of keeping Ronaldo out of the match.
Germany has faced injury in the midfield with Philipp Lahm having recovered away from the team at the beginning of camp, but is ready to put on the armband. He will probably see time in midfield, but a few days ago it was unclear. Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to go despite being airlifted to a hospital for a knee scan on Saturday. The visit to the hospital was for insurance purposes. Sami Khedira, who still has not looked 100 percent, could get the start. Top keeper Manuel Neuer was declared fit for the match at the end of last week.
Despite the recent recovery of these players, Germany is still considered the favorite in the group. They have won the opening match in every World Cup since 1990. This will be Germany’s 100th match in the World Cup Finals. They should be able to keep possession with a stronger midfield, but finishing will be the problem. With the injury to Marco Reus, Lukas Podolski will be called on as part of a formation that will likely include a false nine.
Any turnover in the midfield could lead to a quick counter attack for Portugal. Even if Ronaldo is at 75 percent, he can turn the game around quickly. All he will need is a small opening. Per Mertesacker and Mats Hummels will have to be really smart about when they help out on the wing. It is no secret that Ronaldo is the key.
This will be an interesting match and should show the true strength of these teams. Germany could stake their claim as a title contender. Portugal can show that qualifying through a playoff was a rebirth. This is a must-watch game.