Germany vs. Portugal, 2014 World Cup preview: Can Germany stop Ronaldo?

After Spain-Holland, it's hard to predict anything anymore, but it would be a surprise if Germany weren't to replicate their excellent form of 2010.

SB Nation's 2014 World Cup Bracket'

With Spain looking on the ropes already, it might be Gerany's time. If a European team is going to win this World Cup, Joachim Low's men will be the hot favourites from the continent despite Holland's heroics, but they'll have a stern early test in Portugal.

Portugal's strength is obvious - they have the best player in the world. Germany, meanwhile, have plenty of talent all over the pitch, even in the wake of some injuries keeping a few of their stars out of the tournament. It won't quite be Ronaldo vs. Germany - Portugal have plenty of other solid players from Joao Moutinho to Fabio Coentrao to Pepe - but it's hard to see Portugal doing... well, anything at all in this tournament without their talisman.

Team news

Germany's lineup is virtually impossible to predict. Marco Reus' injury means that Thomas Müller could start, but so could Lukas Podolski. Miroslav Klose could be chosen up front, or there have been suggestions Mesut Özil will be used as a false nine. Bastian Schweinsteiger is also nursing an injury, so Philipp Lahm could partner Sami Khedira in midfield. There are many questions about the Germany team, and it's anybody's guess until we get the official lineups.

Portugal, meanwhile, have no real problems, and their lineup is largely a predictable one.Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles will be the key men in midfield, while Pepe and Bruno Alves will marshal the defence and Nani will support Ronaldo.

Predicted lineups

Germany: Neuer; Boateng, Hummels, Mertesacker, Höwedes; Khedira, Lahm; Schürrle, Kroos, Podolski; Müller

Portugal: Patricio; Coentrao, Alves, Pepe, Pereira; Veloso, Meireles, Moutinho; Nani, Ronaldo, Almeida.

Does that Germany lineup look weird to you? It looks weird to us too, but it's what's been widely reported.

football formations

Key matchups

Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Philipp Lahm

Wherever Philipp Lahm plays, he's likely to come up against Cristiano Ronaldo, and one of the most solid defenders in the world will be given the ultimate test. It's rare for Lahm to have anything other than an 8/10 game - he's always very good, never great, certainly never poor. But Ronaldo is on another level to any other player in the world and if he can beat Lahm, he can win it for Portugal.

Joao Moutinho vs. Sami Khedira

Remember the first ever one-a-side international fixture? Ronaldo faced off against Zlatan Ibrahimovic in Portugal-Sweden and came out on top. But he owed some of it to the passes from Moutinho, and if Germany allow him space when Portugal counter, Ronaldo can wreak havoc. Khedira is the man who will be tasked to stop him. Best of luck,

Prediction

Germany are in a bit of a mess, and Ronaldo was fairly anonymous in the Champions League final so he's not always guaranteed to put on a show-stopping performance. Nonetheless, we suspect this will be a draw. 2-2.

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