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Germany, Mueller turn World Cup showdown with Portugal into 4-0 blowout

The 2014 World Cup draw had at least two powerhouse opening games. Not only did 2010 World Cup finalists Spain and the Netherlands get put in the same group and play each other in their first match, top 5 ranked Germany and Portugal were paired together to start their tournament runs as well. Yet both matches between world powers became a blowout, with Germany and Thomas Mueller destroying Portugal by 4-0 on June 16.

Mueller blows out Portugal with hat trick
Photo by Pool/Getty Images

The second ranked Germans' manhandling of fourth ranked Portugal wasn't as sudden as the Netherlands destroying defending World Cup champion Spain on June 6 by 5-1. But this surprising blowout was more thorough, as Mueller and Germany took it to Portugal from the beginning, instead of waiting for the second half.

Mueller got started with a penalty kick in the 12'th minute, with Mats Hummels giving the Germans a bigger cushion 20 minutes later. The Portuguese were already limping toward halftime, especially when Pepe was handed a red card in the 37'th minute. But when Mueller scored again right before the half, the Germans could coast the rest of the way.

Nevertheless, Mueller added one more highlight by securing a hat trick in the 81'st minute. It was the final indignity for the Portuguese, who now need to be virtually perfect against the USA and Ghana to get out of Group G. With the Americans riding high from their late win over Ghana, and with Portugal facing a game without Pepe, the USA may have a real opening to challenge the Portuguese on June 22.

Meanwhile, the Germans have a chance to coast out of Group G, putting together one of the most decisive opening statements of the World Cup. However, that could be an ominous sign, as Germany has opened the Cup with blowout wins in the past and had much rougher endings anyway. The Germans still haven't won this tournament since 1990 -- when its soccer team was still from West Germany -- so the ending is still much more important than the beginning.

Germany can bask in this blowout for just three days, before facing a now desperate Ghana team on June 21.