NATAL, Brazil – For all the celebrating the US national team did after its 2-1 win over Ghana in the teams’ opening match of the World Cup here on Monday night, Jurgen Klinsmann and his players are well aware not everyone is happy in Group G.
The Americans’ dramatic win came hours after a result that was hardly in doubt even before the halftime whistle even blew in Salvador, where Germany manhandled Portugal in a 4-0 win that put each team’s cards on the table heading second match on Sunday.
For Germany, it’s a seemingly sure-fire path to the knockout rounds with a winnable game against Ghana looming on Saturday (3 pm ET, ESPN). And for Portugal and their star striker Cristiano Ronaldo, there’s redemption at stake when they take on the Americans in the Amazon city of Manaus a day later.
“[Portugal] is an even more dangerous team than before,” Klinsmann told reporters in his postgame press conference on Monday night. “When you get that 4-0 result from Germany, now you’re going to come into Manaus pretty angry. And I don’t know how Cristiano Ronaldo behaves when he’s angry.”
Klinsmann said he and his staff watched Germany’s decisive win before the US kickoff and were understandably impressed, but not surprised. Germany’s Thomas Müller finished with three goals and the Germans pounced on a silly red-card foul from defender Pepe in the first half that left the Portuguese deflated.
For all the talk of Ronaldo’s impressive pedigree and reigning status as the best player in the world heading into Brazil, he was effectively rendered useless and looked demoralized as Germany pulled away with ease.
“We can only give [Germany] a huge compliment to start the tournament like that,” said Klinsmann, who coached the German side to the semifinals of the 2006 World Cup on home soil. “It was impressive. There’s no doubt about it.”
US goalkeeper Tim Howard said he watched the game with one eye open on Monday afternoon – “I was sleeping for most of the second half,” Howard said – but insisted there wasn’t much to learn about Portugal after Pepe’s ejection.
“[Portutgal] were unlucky to get the red card, but Germany’s one of the best teams in the world,” Howard said. “They’re going to be tough, and it’s really no surprise how well Germany played.”
Added Klinsmann: “Germany is the favorite in this group … We have to face Portugal and get a result, otherwise it’s going to be wide open. It’s going to be a grind, one game after another. Everything is still out there to play for.”