World Cup Group G | Fortaleza | Sun 22 Jun | 3am
Irresistible force versus moveable but very muscular object.
Their opening games of Group G taught us nothing much we didn't already know. Germany's 4-0 annihilation of supposed dark horses Portugal merely confirmed what we all suspected, nay feared: that Joachim Low's squad is too powerful, too effective, too efficient and too bloody German for almost every other nation at this World Cup finals.
Even in the skewed reality of facing 10 men, they ground Portugal into very small pieces without ever getting out of second gear. They appear to be, as their World Cup 2014 ad slogan has it, 'Ready Like Never Before', and yet 10-man Portugal carved out as many shots on target (13) and suggested that an occasionally hesitant defence, particularly the full backs, could yet be every other nation's best hope.
Ghana went into this tournament with hopes of reaching the last four and avenging the injustice of 'Suarezgate' in 2010, when they exited in the quarter-finals. Defeat to the USA, the supposedly weakest of the Group G teams, has forced a rethink.
It's not hard to envisage Ghana exiting this World Cup pointless, but we prefer to predict that they could push Germany hard. They'll need to put their boots on the right feet for starters – against USA the Black Stars rained 28 efforts down on Tim Howard's goal, but very few of them actually hit the target and they obviously still lost.
They'll also need to stay wide awake from the 1st minute until the bitter end – they conceded after 29 seconds and 86 minutes. If they improve both aspects and impose their physical game on the Germans within the ever narrowing rules of the game, then a joyous surprise may yet be sprung.
What the local media say
German newspaper Spiegel online revealed that Joachim Low's men celebrated their steamrollering of Portugal by taking sodding selfies with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. "They had little opportunity to talk shop with the national coach on intricacies of tactics," reported Spiegel, via a very crude online translation, but "selfies were announced with Lukas Podolski. Joachim Low thanked like that 'at least we have won if they already so goes on a long journey for us'." No idea what that actually means, but the arrogance comes through.
Key battle: Thomas Muller vs John Boye
The German striker and first recipient of a hat-trick ball at this tournament doesn't much look like a footballer. A dishevelled mess who runs like a drunk, Muller makes up by knowing exactly what to do when presented with a football in front of a goal. Against Portugal he scored 3 from 4 opportunities, which is a highly efficient return. One of them was a penalty, of course, but even that was despatched in the most Germanic manner possible.
It's hard to predict where along the front line Muller will turn up, such is his versatility, but whichever burly Ghanaian defender is deployed to pull him out of shape will clearly have their work cut out. We've plumped for John Boye because we like his name. He sounds like he should be picking potatoes in Norfolk.
Facts and figures
- Germany have played and beaten Ghana twice – a 6-1 win in 1993 and 1-0 win in 2010. All 7 of their goals have been scored from the 60th minute onwards.
- Ghana have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 5 World Cup games, although they only conceded 6 goals in those games.
- Germany have won their second World Cup group game on just 1 occasion since 1994, the 1-0 win over Poland in 2006. Their record reads D3 L1, that defeat coming against Serbia in 2010.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Closer than Germany's reputation may lead us to believe: 2-1 to Jogi Low's lads.