Portugal may be over-reliant on star man.
It looks like Cristiano Ronaldo has won his battle to be fit for Portugal’s Group G opener and Germany will know all about the Real Madrid star.
There are seven Bayern Munich players in Joachim Low’s squad and they found out, first-hand, just how good FIFA’s world player of the year can be in a recent Champions League semi-final.
Germany, however, won nine of their 10 qualifiers and their World Cup record is second to none. They’ve won the tournament three times and been beaten finalists on four other occasions.
Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil was their top scorer in qualifying, though Mario Gotze and Thomas Muller also know where the goal is. But this might be a German squad that lacks the recent strength-in-depth of predecessors.
The loss of Marco Reus is a huge blow and leaves veteran Miroslav Klose as the only recognised out-and-out striker. Chelsea’s Andre Schurrle is a potential star, however, and this is a country that rarely comes up short.
Portugal almost didn’t qualify for the finals but Ronaldo’s brilliance saw them home in a tense play-off in Sweden and they’ll be hoping to make the most of their second chance.
Their best player’s knee injury has been a real cause for concern, however, as Paulo Bento’s squad doesn’t look as strong as the one that only lost on penalties to Spain at Euro 2012. As well as Ronaldo, striker Helder Postiga came into the tournament carrying an injury and several of their first-choice XI, including Raul Meireles and Hugo Almeida, look past their prime.
Nani also had a season to forget at Manchester United and history suggests they’ll struggle if their star man isn’t fully fit.
They also often take a while to get going, Northern Ireland led them twice in qualifying matches, so a bet on Germany to lead at half time could be value, therefore, at 7/4 and Low’s men rarely surrender a lead.
Portugal are 27/10 to make a winning start and set themselves up nicely to take top spot in the section.
The match kicks off at 5pm UK time on Monday June 16th at the Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador.