Mesut Ozil and Cristiano Ronaldo formed one of the most lethal partnerships in world football during their three years together at Real Madrid.
Between 2010 and 2013, Ozil created the chances and Ronaldo finished them, as Los Blancos won La Liga and the Copa del Rey once each, and reached the semi-finals of the Champions League three years in a row.
When Madrid decided to sell the Germany international to Arsenal on transfer deadline day last summer, Ronaldo was one of the senior players in the dressing room who was not pleased.
Ozil and Ronaldo faced each other on Monday when Germany took on Portugal in the opening Group G game of the 2014 World Cup finals. It was supposed to be a tightly contested match, but in the end it proved to be anything but.
Joachim Low’s side comprehensively defeated their European rivals 4-0, thanks to a hat-trick from Thomas Muller. Ronaldo had a disappointing game and struggled against a very organised German side. True, the Madrid forward had just recovered from injuries, but the 29-year-old still looked unconvincing.
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Ozil has now said that it was more down to his side’s defence that Germany could keep Ronaldo quiet, while claiming that having watched the former Manchester United star in training, he believes that the Portuguese forward is a “genius”.
‘Cristiano Ronaldo had given his all for Real Madrid’, he told The Times of India. ‘From my experiences in training sessions with him, I know he is truly a genius. To be able to contain him the way we did was commendable for our defence’.
It will be interesting to see how Portugal recover from their drubbing at the hands of Germany. Paulo Bento’s side will take on the USA in their second group match on Sunday, and it promises to be tough for the Seleccao.
The Americans kicked off their World Cup campaign with a 2-1 win against African giants Ghana and will be relishing the prospect of going through to the round of 16 at the expense of Portugal.
For Portugal to succeed against the USA on Sunday, Ronaldo needs to step up.