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Postcard from Brazil

Germany Crushes Portugal 4-0; American Fans Smile

Jurgen Klinsmann told reporters that he would be watching Group G opponents Germany and Portugal over lunch today. We're guessing the U.S. coach enjoyed his mealtime entertainment.
BY John Godfrey Posted
June 16, 2014
2:03 PM
THE UNITED STATES hasn't done anything yet in the 2014 World Cup, but already things are looking up.

Germany, the favorites to win Group G, absolutely crushed Portugal in the first Group G match today, winning 4-0 on a Thomas Muller hat trick and another goal from Mats Hummels.

Why is this a desirable result for the U.S.? As the conventional wisdom has it, the Americans do not play the powerhouse Germans until the third and final game of the group stage, and if die Mannschaft have already secured passage to the knockout rounds before they even line up against the U.S., head coach Joachim Low might decide to rest his starters. In theory, the United States stands a better chance of success against the German second string (although it's a pretty fantastic second string).

Assuming Germany wins the group—and the team certainly seems poised to do so—goal differential could be a deciding factor for the second place team. By starting out minus-four, Portugal finds itself in a world of trouble. It will need to get two results in its matches against the United States and Ghana (June26). It may have to take risks to do so, and taking risks often leads to mistakes.

In another piece of good news for the Yanks, Portugese central defender Pepe—who plays his club soccer with Real Madrid—lost his temper in the middle of the contest, headbutted Muller, and received a straight red card. This indiscretion forced his 10 remaining teammates to exert extra energy to make up for his absence. It also means that Pepe, an intimidating presence for Portugal, will not be eligible to play against the United States on June 22 in Manaus.

It got worse for Portugal: Both Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao left the match with injuries, and it remains to be seen if either will be available to play against the U.S. on the 22nd. Coentrao, a fullback who plays for Real Madrid, and Almeida, a forward who has scored 37 goals for Besiktas over the last three seasons, would represent huge losses for the Portuguese.

Portugal's singular star, Cristiano Ronaldo, was one of those 10 men forced to play at a one-man disadvantage for nearly an hour. Will the extra effort have an adverse affect on Ronaldo in future matches? Will running a little bit harder than he might have otherwise exacerbate Ronaldo's left knee injury? It certainly won't help.

Ronaldo was still performing his trademark stepovers late into the match. In fact, he played until the final whistle at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.

U.S. supporters will be hoping that the impeccably groomed superstar is very tired right now.

What did you think of the match? Encouraged by the results? Intimidated by Germany? Tell us below.

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