Joachim Löw takes a look around the stadium, which is holding about 15,000 fans, as he sings along with the German anthem. Antonio Rüdiger of Chelsea, sporting his protective face mask, looks dead ahead, supremely focused. This is not knockout football, in the sense Germany will have a final game against Hungary regardless … but can they muster the victory they so desperately need?
The teams are on the pitch! The Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo is the first out of the tunnel, and limbers up with a short little sprint and a jump. Germany follow their opponents out. Joachim Löw and Fernando Santos, the opposing coaches, bump fists and smile. Now time for the anthems … this is happening!
“Seems self-defeating to leave players of genuine physicality and thrust such as Goretzka, Werner and Sané on the bench against quite a lightweight Portugal midfield,” says Charles on email. “Hansi Flick can’t get through the door quick enough.”
It will be interesting to see how quickly Löw looks to change things if Germany fall behind, for sure. Last-chance saloon time.
Less than 15 minutes until kick-off in Munich.
You’ve got time to read Andy Hunter’s match report from Hungary 1-1 France, a result which has rather blown Group F open:
There’s a bit of analysis now, on ITV, from Germany’s defeat with France.
“Playing a high line is a high-risk strategy with Mats Hummels in your team, because he can’t run,” insists Graeme Souness.
They show the clip of Kylian Mbappé having Hummels on toast in a sprint race a few days ago, after which Hummels was a touch fortunate not to concede a penalty. To be fair, Hummels will not be facing anyone nearly that quick today. As Nick Ames wrote in his preview, Portugal possess tonnes of skill and guile, but they aren’t the fastest.
Pictured below: Ronaldo warms up on the pitch in Munich. He’s done this before:
And the Portuguese fans are ready:
Yash Gupta emails in!
“I find Gareth Southgate and Joachim Löw very similar. Obviously there are few differences as one has won the World Cup and other one beat Panama 6-0, but in tactics nous both are similar. In England’s case yesterday, their full-backs didn’t advance five yards in build-up phase and when they did, they end up holding the width of 18 yard box with them and wingers having no clue of what’s going on … In Germany’s case their best midfielder and possibly the best in the world in his position in Kimmich is playing as a wing-back. Portugal do have problems mainly in defence and the relative lack of pace against Gnabry. But if last game v France was anything to go by, he will be dropping deep. Plus Muller will be playing ahead of Havertz which is not ideal.”
Another another email: “Mike here from Kenya.. Fancy Germany will get a 2-1 win.. Their performance against France wasn’t all that bad especially in the second half.”
And finally, a short and sweet prediction from Martin Lewis: “Portugal 3; Germany 1”.
ITV are looking back at the small matter of England v Scotland at Wembley last night. The most disappointing tournament display under Gareth Southgate, Gabriel Clarke just called it.
“We go again,” says Harry Kane.
A little under 40 minutes until kick-off. What are your predictions? Both teams know that after France’s draw in Hungary, everything is up for grabs in Group F. Surely they are both going to go for it?
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“Honestly, the way he heads the ball, it’s like a League Two centre-half,” says Gary Neville of Cristiano Ronaldo, which he meant as some kind of compliment.
ITV set the scene with some archive footage of C-Ron in action, including a couple of belting headers at Euro 2004.
“He has improved his physicality,” Neville adds. “I knew him when he was skinny … he came back one summer [to Manchester United], and it was like: ‘Wow, what’s happened here?’”
“It’s quite clear the players are enjoying this, a significant turn in itself.”
Barney Ronay writes that Euro 2020 is looking like the real deal:
My colleague Niall McVeigh has tweeted an update to the all-time Euros scoring charts – Antoine Griezmann’s leveller for France puts him level with Alan Shearer, on seven.
Full-time! Hungary 1-1 France
A huge result for Hungary. They survive a late penalty appeal, and they’ve won a point against the world champions. That makes Portugal v Germany all the more interesting … bring it on.
Both teams unchanged from their opening matches. Germany coach Löw sticks with the side that lost 1-0 to France. Leroy Sané is on the bench again, along with Timo Werner of Chelsea: you’d expect both to be involved at some point this evening.
Portugal: Rui Patrício, Nélson Semedo, Pepe, Rúben Dias, Guerreiro, Ronaldo (C), Bernardo Silva, Bruno Fernandes, Danilo, William Carvalho, Diogo Jota.
Jonathan Wilson wrote about Germany and Joachim Löw a couple of weeks back:
“These Euros will help determine his immediate legacy, but he occupies a curiously ambiguous place in football history.”
Into the final 10 minutes in Budapest, and it remains 1-1. That would put the cat amongst the Group F pigeons, leaving France with four points, Portugal with three, Hungary with one and Germany still on zero – but with everything to play for in the group …
“Germany did not play poorly in losing narrowly to France. If anything they more or less conformed to expectations, although that observation brings its own unsettling conclusions. They were generally held at arm’s length, one squall of pressure aside, by opponents who were simply a notch more accomplished.”
Nick Ames looks ahead to this evening’s hotly-anticipated match in Munich:
Something of a cracker is unfolding over in Budapest, where Hungary are level at 1-1 with France in the second half:
Come what may, Joachim Löw will be leaving his role as Germany’s manager in the next few weeks. Today’s match against Portugal may determine whether, after 15 years in the job, he leaves under a cloud – or in a burst of summer sunshine. Die Mannschaft were narrowly defeated by the world champions, France, in their opening match last Tuesday. Consequently, they need a positive result against the European champions Portugal today if they are to avoid a humiliating group-stage exit. No easy games at this level, and all that.
It’s a good thing that Löw’s reputation does not rest entirely on this match: success at the 2014 World Cup means his legacy is secure, although suspicions that he is no longer capable of getting the best from a richly talented squad have steadily been growing, particularly since the dismal showing at the 2018 World Cup. Victory for Germany today, and who knows? Perhaps this group of players can build momentum through the tournament, and give their coach a fitting send-off with a run deep into the knockout stages.
Not that Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal will care about any of that. They eventually wore Hungary down to run out 3-0 winners in Budapest a few days ago, and possess an astonishing array of attacking talent which is a match for any team at the tournament. If ‘CR7’ can join forces with Bruno Fernandes, Diogo Jota and Bernardo Silva and ensure Germany’s downfall, Fernando Santos’s men will be into the last 16 with a game to spare. Germany have never lost to a team containing Cristiano Ronaldo, and most recently trounced them 4-0 on the way to winning the big one in 2014.
The stakes could hardly be higher, and fans of both countries face a nervous, emotionally-draining few hours ahead. For us neutrals, it’s quite simply a dream of a fixture that promises to be one of the most compelling of the tournament. Let’s hope it lives up to that billing. Team news, pre-match reading and more is coming right up.