By general consensus it’s been a helluva start to the World Cup in Brazil, and Group G’s opener promises not to let the side down as pre-tournament fancies Germany take on Portugal in Salvador.
The three-time winners’ market dominance is reflected in our combined XI, with seven of Low’s men sneaking in and just four of Bento’s, but we’ve had to dispense with the services of one struggling Germany superstar.
There’s little to debate between the sticks, as Manuel Neuer is regarded by many to be the world’s best and gets in ahead of any of Portugal’s three keepers, of whom Sevilla’s Beto looks the best, but there are plenty of spots up for grabs in the four places ahead of him.
Germany captain Philipp Lahm and former club teammate Mats Hummels pick themselves at right-back and centre-half, but Pepe gets in alongside the Borussia Dortmund giant ahead of Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng, who many identified as Pep Guardiola’s weak link in Bavaria last season.
Pepe’s Los Blancos teammate Fabio Coentrao gets the nod at left-back after his spirited run-out in the Champions League final win over Atletico Madrid.
In midfield, Bastian Schweinsteiger takes the anchor role ahead of another Real man in Sami Khedira, who has made just five appearances for club and country since suffering from a knee injury in early November.
Bayern and international teammate Toni Kroos takes his place to the left of Schweinsteiger, with Monaco’s €25m Portuguese Joao Moutinho – who, like the German pair, can play anywhere along the midfield – tucking in on the right.
Die Mannschaft number 10 Mesut Ozil arrived at Arsenal to a huge fanfare as continental football’s ‘King of assists’, but by any measure the former Wolfsburg man has proved a disappointment.
Having scored nine and laid on another 13 La Liga goals in 32 appearances during his last season in Madrid, Ozil could only manage five strikes and nine assists in 26 increasingly-laboured Premier League games in his first campaign in north London.
The 25-year-old’s seeming reluctance to take on players, with 1.5 successful dribbles per game in 2013/14 league and Champions League fixtures compared to Germany teammate Mario Gotze’s 2.7 for Bayern Munich (courtesy of WhoScored.com) sees him miss the cut in favour of the FCB flyer.
Gotze, who notched twice as many league goals and just one less assist than Ozil last term, gets in at right-forward with World Cup 2010 Golden Boot winner Thomas Muller – not a natural centre-forward, but the best available option in either squad – leading the line.
At left-forward, but certain not to stay there, we’ve stuck Cristiano Ronaldo, who’d still be a decent bet to bag the opener at 6/1 if he started in goal.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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