It was certainly not the kind of game the Portuguese were hoping to have, and the 4-2 defeat to the Germans will send huge doubts around their camp and the minds of their well wishers.
In what appeared to be a bright start for Joachim Low’s side, a Cristiano Ronaldo led counter attacking goal looked to spell doom for the home team. But the German machines had other plans, as Portugal’s goal only sparked new life in reinvigorating them. From then on they went all out on the attack, and this time with more intension and nerve-wracking intensity. It was a display which every German will be proud of, and now with both sides having their sights set on their final group fixtures, we bring you four things to note from this encounter.
1. RESILIENT GERMAN MACHINESEmbed from Getty Images
Things definitely have not gone the way of the Germans over the last few months, and their start to this tournament sums their last 24 months up. It appeared to be getting worse for Low’s men after the Portuguese took the lead, but two own-goals were what Joachim Low’s side needed to turn things around and eventually clinch the tie. They were energetic, vibrant and back to their best – playing like machines and not taking no for an answer.
2. DYNAMIC WING-BACKSEmbed from Getty Images
Germany’s only hope of scoring a week ago against France came down the left with Robin Gosens and the right with the occasional Joshua Kimmich cross. Low doubled down on the two wing-backs in this match and this tactical switch definitely deserves plaudits. They attempted to play into wide areas against France, but were incredibly unsuccessful at doing so due to France’s pressure. But Germany ramped up their use of crosses and their wing-backs in high flying positions, attempting to exploit the defensively weak Nelson Semedo. Robin Gosens was excellent down the left, and ran ragged around Semedo. His goal and assist should earn him the man of the match award, and Low’s men should look to continue to use him and Kimmich in future matches to achieve greater success.
3. MORE SELECTION PROBLEMS FOR FERNANDO SANTOSEmbed from Getty Images
The Portuguese tactician will have more to worry about, as he his still yet to get his midfield ticking in the right direction. The below par performance from the tired Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva will also be a concern for Santos, and something that he will need to look into solving given how solid Renato Sanches and Rafa Silva were off the bench against Hungary.
The Portuguese game plan was spelled out from the onset – soak up the pressure and hit them on the counter. This worked to an extent until the 35th minute, when the defense of the Portuguese came crashing like a pack of cards. Portugal should look to hold more of the possession against France, who allowed Germany more of the ball in their 1-0 victory last week.
4. DEFEATED BUT NOT TOOTHLESSEmbed from Getty Images
If there is any positive the Portuguese can pick up from this defeat, it is the fact that they are not impotent in front of goal. Though not enough, goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Diogo Jota helped half the deficit for the Portuguese. Ronaldo’s performance in particular illustrates his undeniable quality once again and how ready he is to try and lead his side to glory once more. Unfortunately, he cannot do it on his own. The likes of Ruben Dias, Bruno Fernandes and Bernardo Silva will need to step up their game next match, otherwise Portugal could be out for good.
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