Monday marks the start of the World Cup's Group G action, and a tasty meeting between Germany and Portugal is first on the agenda. Both of these teams head into the World Cup with grand ambitions of winning the thing, even if they're not quite at the standard of the big favourites like Brazil and Spain. However, an opening defeat could seriously knock their confidence; something the United States could take advantage of.
Heading into this game, Germany are probably slight favourites, though their World Cup preparations have hardly been ideal. Firstly they suffered the withdrawal of defensive midfielder Lars Bender with a thigh injury, while a string of other full first-teamers were battling back to full fitness after niggling injuries. They unconvincingly drew with Poland and Cameroon in their opening couple of preparation matches, and suffered the blow of losing their star man, Marco Reus, to injury in their third -- though they did end up beating Belarus 6-1.
Portugal v Germany
Portugal v Germany
So, suffice to say, coach Joachim Löw will be hoping that the actual World Cup goes a little better than their preparations have. Having said that, so too will Portugal's Paulo Bento, who has seen his side struggle a little more in their friendlies than expected. Their reliance on star player Cristiano Ronaldo was glaringly obvious as they were held in a goalless draw to Greece before squeaking past Mexico with a stoppage time winner in his absence, only to down the Republic of Ireland 5-1 on his return.
However, fortunately Ronaldo looks fighting fit after bouncing back from his tendinosis scare, and he'll undoubtedly be the great thorn in Germany's side in this game. He'll look to inspire Portugal to their first victory over Germany in 14 years, with Die Mannschaft having emerged victorious in their last three meetings -- all of which have come at major tournaments.
Match Date/Time: Monday, 1 p.m. local, 12 p.m. ET
Venue: Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador, Brazil
TV: ESPN (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes, Univision (U.S. - Spanish), CBC (Canada - English), Univision Canada (Canada - Spanish), Mediaset Italia (Canada - Italian), ITV 1 (U.K.), ARD Das Erste (Germany), RTP 1 (Portugal)
United States announcers: Jon Champion and Stewart Robson
Online: Watch ESPN (U.S.), ITV Player (U.K.), ARD Live Stream (Germany)