Today, in Euro 2020 Group F play, in Munich’s Allianz Arena, Portugal managed to score two own goals in a 4-2 loss to hosts Germany. The match, ironically, hinged on Fernando Santos’ inability to see his celebrated four-man defensive line had become a three-man line because Raphael Guerreiro was up on offense so much, and unable to get back on defense in time, that Nelson Semedo felt he needed to play near the penalty spot as his teammates rotated to cover the vacant left flank. He did not need to, of course, because Ruben Dias covered brilliantly most of the time and midfielders galore retreated to cover. But no one pointed that out to him and Germany’s Robin Gosens was always open.
This untenable situation allowed for all four of Germany’s goals to occur as Gosens, the key man in each of the goal-scoring plays, was left unmarked on Portugal’s right flank. By the time Santos reacted to the goings-on, well into the second half, his decision was to replace his entire midfield rather than come up with a solution to his defensive woes, which by half-time had cost him two goals. What a difference it would have made if he simply had Danilo Pereira drop back each time Guerreiro went forward.
The match started brilliantly for Portugal who had been cornered for most of the first fifteen minutes by Germany’s insistent and intense attack only to get a single counterattack which saw Diogo Jota assist on Cristiano Ronaldo’s 10th-minute opening score. Ronaldo would return the favor assisting on Jota’s 67th-minute goal.
Nevertheless, it was a Dias (35th) own goal and a Guerreiro (39th) own goal which tipped the balance of a well-played match toward Germany as only Kai Havets (51st) and Robin Gosens (60th) actually scored for the hosts.
Joachim Low must have seen what Santos missed as the entire second half was a replica of the first with Germany going down the middle or right flank on offense only to switch to the far-left flank each time to find an open Gosens and later Marcel Halstenberg. But credit must go to Germany who corrected their mistake of not using the flanks strategically against France but went one better, once they saw the flaw in the Portuguese defense, they kept exploiting it repeatedly and to great success.
Portugal must now look to garner at least a point against France in the last match of the group as Germany look to secure a win and a potential first-place finish against Hungary and the French look to get their needed draw to progress or their hoped for win to move on as the top team of the group.