1. Thomas Mueller just became Germany’s recognised striker
Germany’s build-up to this World Cup was not smooth, and their concerns centred around the lack of a recognised striker, given the injury to Mario Gomez and Miroslav Klose’s advancing years. Thomas Mueller has emphatically proved that he’s the man to lead the German challenge with a very Muller-esque hat-trick. He’s now scored seven goals in eight World Cup games, made all the more remarkable by the fact that he’s never scored more than 13 goals in a league season. Could the 2010 Golden Boot winner scoop the award in 2014? You bet he could.
2. Germany are still irresistible on the counter-attack
To lose a player like Marco Reus and still be so devastatingly explosive on the counter-attack is some achievement. The Oezil-Muller-Goetze axis demonstrated an intuitive understanding and a pace and directness that will trouble any defence in Brazil. Andre Schuerrle and Lukas Podolski offer Joachim Loew further options in attack. Is there a better front line in the tournament?
3. Pepe is a ticking timebomb
When he’s not kicking players when they’re flat on the ground or stepping on Lionel Messi’s hand, Pepe is up to another dirty trick. While his run-in with Mueller was not his most aggressive act, it was another indication that the Real Madrid defender cannot be trusted on the big occasions. Will he ever learn?
4. Ronaldo is nowhere near full match fitness
It’s not easy to leave the world’s best player out of an opening game of a World Cup against Germany, but Ronaldo was off the pace. He didn’t command possession or lead the Portugal response in the way expected of him. Portugal need Ronaldo fit and firing against the USA, or they could be on an early flight home.
5. Portugal have big problems in Brazil
If losing 4-0 in their opening game wasn’t bad enough, Portugal will be without the suspended Pepe against USA and, by the looks of it, injured pair Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao. The Real Madrid full-back had been one of the few bright sparks for Portugal on a dismal day – and now his World Cup appears to be over. Things are looking very gloomy for A Seleccao.
Germany are 5.50 to win the World Cup.