The U.S. and Ghana soccer teams had at least one thing going for them in the hours before they opened their World Cup play:
They were nowhere near the German team, a highly potent and relentless soccer power that made a big statement with its 4-0 victory over Portugal on Monday in Salvador, Brazil.
The so-called Group of Death got off to a lively start, at least for a talented and hungry German bunch. Portugal, on the other hand, was beset by an early deficit and one costly red card, watching its early tournament hopes overheat on the World Cup vine, despite the presence of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo.
Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick for Germany, this after scoring five goals in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It marked the fourth consecutive World Cup in which the Germans scored at least four goals in their opener.
“To score three goals in the World Cup opener against such an opponent is great,” Mueller said.
The United States is scheduled to face this battered and beaten Portuguese squad on Sunday in Manaus, the second match of the tournament for both squads. Portugal will enter that game without one of its top defenders. Pepe drew a red card for a headbutt late in the first half, incurring an ejection as well as an automatic suspension for Sunday. By the time halftime arrived, the Germans led 3-0.
“We lost the game already in the first half,” Portugal coach Paulo Bento said. “We couldn’t come back in the second. Germany played very well, we couldn’t do anything.”
Iran 0, Nigeria 0: Nigeria and Iran delivered the first draw of this World Cup, grinding out a scoreless stalemate in their Group F opener in Curitiba.