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Loew heaps praise on star Mueller and weighs options Hummels injured concern

SALVADOR, Brazil, June 17, (Agencies): Germany coach Joachim Loew poured praise on make-shift striker Thomas Mueller after his hat-trick in Monday’s 4-0 rout of Portugal at the World Cup, then hinted at making changes. Germany became the first country to reach the milestone of 100 World Cup matches and marked the occasion by thumping Cristiano Ronaldo-led Portugal. Mueller bagged the Germans’ seventh World Cup hat-trick in total — more than any other nation — with Argentina second on four. “Thomas did really well up front and he constantly tore holes in the defence,” enthused Loew after the Group G clash. “He is a very unorthodox player and you can’t really predict his lines of running, but he has one aim and that is ‘how can I score a goal?’ “That makes him so dangerous, especially in the box.”

A decisive first-half saw Germany race into a 3-0 lead in Salvador as Mueller converted a penalty, then fired home their third on the stroke of half-time after Mats Hummels scored with a header. Mueller, who normally plays as a winger or attacking midfielder for Bayern Munich, wrapped up his hat-trick with a scrappy effort in the dying stages as Ronaldo endured an afternoon to forget. “The whole team played incredibly compactly and hardly gave anyway any chances to counter-attack,” added Loew. “When we went 3-0 up, it was important to hold the ball and play more economically. “Jerome Boateng did really well against Ronaldo.”

Ghana await the Germans next in Recife on June 21 and with high temperatures expected for the 1600 kick-off local time (1900 GMT), Loew says changes may come. Hummels is an injury concern after being helped off with a thigh problem and Loew has said he will weigh up his options over the next few days.
“We will now look at the team set up,” said Loew. “Ghana has an incredible physique, they are very robust, with very fast players. “The heat conditions will demand a lot of us. “Mats Hummels had a knock to the thigh, but I assume that it wasn’t too serious.”

Loew said it was a particularly good day for Germany after news broke on the morning of the match that ex-Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher has come out of a lengthy coma. “It’s very good news, we are all elated of course,” said Loew. “Led by (Schumacher fan) Lukas Podolski, we all really crossed our fingers for him and the fact he has taken the next step is great.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited the team dressing room after the match, as she has done on previous occasions, which also boosted Loew’s squad. “She gave a little speech to say how nice it was that we won, especially after such a long trip here,” said Loew. “There was a lot of applause. “We always like it when she comes to see us, she is always a nice guest to have.”

German media was full of praise on Tuesday for a sterling performance by Joachim Loew’s team in their opening 4-0 World Cup win over Portugal that instantly wiped away fears they might have lost their edge. From the Black Forest in the south to the Baltic Sea in the north, newspapers and commentators expressed awe over the way hat-trick hero Thomas Mueller and his team mates destroyed Portugal - considered their toughest Group G opponents. “This is going to be our World Cup,” wrote Germany’s best-selling daily Bild newspaper. “Mueller is already talking about winning it all.”

Even though German newspapers are usually critical and tend to look for the fly in the ointment, they could find nothing to complain about with the dominant performance against Portugal. “Mueller destroys Portugal,” read the headline in Die Welt. The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) said “everything went perfectly against Portugal” and added that everything Loew had wanted to happen had happened. “Everything Loew planned worked out well,” wrote the FAZ. “Everything he wanted worked — a lot of variety, quick attacks that originate in midfield and overwhelming the opponent with speed and shifting positions.”

The paper said Germany had “made Portugal dizzy with the way they played”. It added: “This match was the way Loew wants Germany to play soccer, a style that had only succeeded in brief phases so far this year.” The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in Munich said the only blemish was an injury to defender Mats Hummels. “Germany opens its tournament with other-worldly strength,” wrote the Sueddeutsche. “The start of the World Cup could not have been any better for the Germany team. Mueller was brilliant with his three goals.”

Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper said Loew deserved credit for the daunting performance. “Eins, zwei, drei, vier! Germany beats Portugal 4-0 and Joachim Loew did everything right before the match,” der Tagesspiegel said. “The injury to Hummels is the only downside but apparently that’s not even as serious as first thought.” ARD TV commentator Reinhold Beckmann also got caught up in the euphoria. “The 4-0 win over Portugal now makes it clear that Germany are among the top favourites to win the tournament alongside Brazil and the Netherlands,” said Beckmann. “Germany showed a lot of courage in the match. But where was the self-appointed superstar named Ronaldo?”

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