What a start to Group B! Though Germany's game with Portugal was not as open as that between the Netherlands and Denmark earlier in the day, it was equally gripping. And also settled by a single goal.
The Nationalmannschaft began the day being tipped as one of the favourites to win the tournament, but not even the most partisan Germany fan could say they played like potential European champions in Lviv. But that's not really what counts now. Many teams in the past have played outstanding football in the group stage only to bid farewell at the start of the knockout phase. No, the only thing that counts in this group – some say the most difficult ever at any FIFA World Cup or UEFA European Championship – is getting the three points. If in doubt, ask the Dutch.
There were some early conclusions that could be drawn, though, notably in terms of Joachim Löw's team selection.
1) I think it is known now that I like Mario Gomez, and I am especially happy for him to have scored the winner. Anyone still think he is a flat-track bully? "I am very, very happy that the coach has put his trust in me," Gomez said right after the match. "I have had a good feeling from the very first day I got here. This way, I was able to pay back some of that trust." Miroslav Klose will have to wait to get a chance to edge closer to Gerd Müller's scoring record for the national team.
2) Mats Hummels was incredible. I had made a case for him to start in place of Per Mertesacker in my last blog, and he won almost all of his challenges and had an incredible 90% pass completion to show for his efforts. One forward foray gave more than a hint at how his comfort with the ball at his feet can help him initiate attacks too.
3) I have to eat a certain amount of humble pie when it comes to Jérôme Boateng, though, and I think I am not alone! I doubted he would be able to handle Cristiano Ronaldo, but you just have to think about that gorgeously timed tackle in the second half that denied the Real Madrid CF man an almost certain goal.
4) While the impetus to win the match did not come from the bench, you must never forget there is huge potential available there with the likes of André Schürrle, Marco Reus or Mario Götze all able to change a game, despite their youth and inexperience at international level.
The two results so far show clearly just how tight this group will be. I can't wait for the second matchday.
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