Germany will take on defending champions Portugal in UEFA Euro 2020 on Saturday. bundesliga.com looks at five reasons Die Mannschaft needn’t fear Cristiano Ronaldo and Co.
1) Ronaldo’s never scored against Neuer at international level
Ronaldo may be the highest scorer in the history of world football – at least by his own reckoning – with 780 official career goals, and there is no question that he has found the target at the European Championships more often than any other player, his brace against Hungary on the opening day taking his tally to 11, the former Manchester United and Real Madrid forward is in line to win the golden boot for the Euro 2020 top scorer with crazyvegas.com.
But the Portugal captain has never found the target against Germany – and it’s not for the want of trying. His first meeting with Die Mannschaft was in the third-place play-off of the 2006 FIFA World Cup, and although Nuno Gomes found a way past Oliver Kahn, Germany prevailed 3-1 on home turf. Jens Lehmann had replaced Kahn as No.1 by the time Portugal met Germany in the quarter-finals at UEFA Euro 2008. Gomes and Helder Postiga were on target, but Ronaldo was not, despite playing another 90 minutes – and Germany still won, this time 3-2.
In the two most recent competitive meetings – in the group stages of Euro 2012 and the victorious 2014 World Cup campaign – Neuer has been the No.1, and Germany haven’t even conceded, to Ronaldo or any of his compatriots.
“The difference is that I know Cristiano Ronaldo better than many others from our many duels,” Neuer once explained to Bayern Munich’s 51 Magazine. “I’m not saying: ‘Oh, here comes Ronaldo, I must be scared.'”
2) Thomas Müller’ed
Whilst Ronaldo is Portugal’s talisman, Germany have recalled one of theirs in Thomas Müller, the self-proclaimed Raumdeuter finding space in the final 26-man squad for the finals after consecutive Bundesliga campaigns with 21 and 18 assists – the former an all-time single-season record for provisions.
Nobody has more goals for Germany in the current ensemble than Müller’s 39, and he remains the highest scorer at World Cups among active players with 10, which is six more than Ronaldo has. Three of those 10 came in a 4-0 thrashing in the group stage in 2014, and Portugal won’t have been delighted to see Mats Hummels’ name also restored to the Germany set-up either – he got the second on that sweltering June day in Salvador.
3) King Kai and other personal battles
Neuer and Müller may boast a personal hex over Ronaldo and Portugal respectively, but theirs are not the only battles that have been won between protagonists who will meet again at the Allianz Arena on Saturday.
Three short weeks ago, Chelsea and Manchester City contested the UEFA Champions League final in Porto. On City’s side: Portugal cornerstones Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva; on Chelsea’s: Germany regulars Kai Havertz, Antonio Rüdiger and Timo Werner… and everyone remembers what happened next. Chelsea prevailed 1-0 thanks to Havertz’s 42nd-minute winner.
Werner had pulled Dias out of position, allowing Havertz to latch onto Mason Mount’s pass unincumbered, and all but Mount could find themselves in very similar positions once again in Munich. That was a Champions League win Made in the Bundesliga, and all directions point to a Euro 2020 equivalent this weekend.
4) Leon Goretzka’s return
Germany have some impressive midfield string-pullers of their own in the shape of Bayern’s Joshua Kimmich, Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos and Ilkay Gündogan – another of Man City’s number – but the return of Leon Goretzka from a thigh injury could prove to be the difference between ecstasy and despair on Saturday.
Kimmich has been repurposed as a right-back for the tournament, which is timely given the fact that Lukas Klostermann may miss the rest of the competition with a thigh injury while Ridle Baku was left to win the U21 Euros with Germany in Hungary and Slovenia earlier this month.
But their style of central midfield play matters here. Kroos completed 94% percent of his 2021 attempted passes for Real in La Liga last season, and at 31, seems more content to let the ball do the running for him these days. Gündogan may have top-scored for City as they won England’s Premier League, but at club level, he has Fernandinho or Rodri beside him to do the donkey work. With Kimmich’s verve needed out wide, Goretzka, with his superhero physique, could be the perfect man to break the lines if the game devolves into a war of attrition.
“It wasn’t important to me to increase the size of my muscles, but rather increase the muscle performance,” said Goretzka, who has 13 goals and four assists in 32 games for Germany, only 13 of them starts. “A look at my in-game results in terms of speed and stamina shows that I’ve made a positive development. I can say that I feel more fit and stable than ever.”
5) History on their side
At the start of the tournament, Germany were edged 1-0 by incumbent world champions France in their Group F opener, so a three-point haul against Portugal is important, but with the past and present on their side, the future is Germany’s to claim per meilleurs jeux au casino‘s predictions.
As well as winning their last five meetings with Portugal – a run which also included a 4-0 win on the way to claiming Olympic silver in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 – Germany are also the most decorated side in the history of European football.
Portugal may be the defending champions, but no European nation has been crowned continental king more often than Germany’s three times (in 1972, 19080 and 1996). Four-time world champions to boot (in 1954, 1974, 1990 and 2014), Germany know how to win when it matters.