Group B – or as everyone’s calling it, the Group With Three Top Teams In It And Denmark Might Be Alright As Well – serves up the first of many super-heavyweight ding-dongs. The Germans were the best team at the 2010 World Cup – no, they didn’t win it, but they were the best team by far. You can stick your boring “statistics”. Now they’re all two years older but still scarily young, quick and cannily marshalled by Herr Love himself, the lovely-haired Joachim Löw. In tactical terms Jogi very much handed Fabio Capello his backside in South Africa.
Portugal, however, won’t just stand and applaud as Germany zip it about. The Portuguese would field 11 wingers if they could, and in Nani and Ronaldo they have two of the tournament’s best – and they’re tough at the back too. They only conceded one goal in four games at the World Cup and that was to Spain, although an annoying technicality meant that this knocked them out.
STAR PLAYER: Cristiano Ronaldo. The fact that Portugal almost literally do not have a striker won’t matter if he plays like he did this season at Real Madrid, where he galloped in from the flank to score an astonishing 5,934 goals.
SECRET WEAPON: Mario Gotze. The versatile Borussia Dortmund attacker is unlikely to displace scampering wizard Mesut Ozil from the German starting 11, but could cause havoc as a late sub.
PREDICTION: After a Ronaldo bender puts Portugal ahead, Germany bring on Gotze and wily veteran Miroslav Klose and level for 1-1.