Germany’s dominance, I thought, was most apparent in its 4-0 World Cup win against Portugal when in the 85th or 86th minute one of its wingers played a ball backwards to Manuel Neuer, the team’s goalkeeper, who was a good five to eight yards in front of his own box, acting essentially as a center-back.
Often that’s not the sort of position you’ll see a goalie, or at least one who isn’t trying to sign his own death-wish. But there he stood, calmly, collecting the ball with a touch that with his next he eventually swung to the nearest player to his left. In a cliche: it was cool and austere German efficiency, achieved in archetypical Nationalmannschaft fashion, a bludgeoning that was never as exciting as inevitable.
But there’s a really good way to see Portugal’s whole burning sh*t-pile, as it was this attempt at a free kick by golden boy Cristiano Ronaldo.
That’s miserable. Obviously, anybody watching the match, soccer expert or amateur, could grok that, but that sort of free kick only comes from a player who was part of a team that competed like that, lacking any sort of tactical or athletic coherence or confidence.
Portugal, as a team, was that Brazuca ball, being drug tepidly into the ground only to crash hopelessly into a giant, white wall. Oh, and it only gets worse: the Portuguese definitely will not have defender Pepe for Sunday’s match against the U.S., and might also be without defender Fabio Coentrao and forward Hugo Almeida after they went down to injuries.
So it goes.