Hail Germany's hat-trick hero Mueller
Germany coach Loew vindicated in his decision to play hat-trick hero Mueller as a 'false No. 9'
(THOMAS MUELLER 12-PEN, 45+1, 78, Mats Hummels 32)
Who needs a proper striker when you have Thomas Mueller?
There were many who had questioned Germany coach Joachim Leow's decision to take just one out-and-out No. 9 - Miroslav Klose - to the World Cup.
After this morning's (Singapore time) 4-0 demolition of Portugal, the critics are nowhere to be seen.
The Germans didn't even need Klose on the pitch to see off Ronaldo and Co.
All they needed was Bayern Munich attacking midfielder Mueller, who scored the first hat-trick at this World Cup.
The 24-year-old, who won the Golden Boot with five goals at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, once described himself as a "Raumdeuter", which roughly translates into "Space Investigator".
Apart from probably being the coolest nickname any footballer has ever coined for himself, it's a pretty apt description.
That ability to ghost into the right places at the right time is basically Mueller's main strength.
And boy, did he made the most of it.
Blessed with the build of a middle-distance runner and with his socks pulled up halfway to his calves, Mueller isn't the type of player who relies on strength or speed.
He doesn't even have the best technique when striking the ball.
But it is his innate ability to be at the right place at the right time that gives him the edge.
This ability to find space also makes him the perfect example of a "false No. 9" - the opposite of a traditional target man - which was what he was deployed as against Portugal.
He hardly had a sniff of the ball up to the point Mario Goetze was hauled down by Joao Pereira in the penalty area in the 12th minute.
Showing the poise of a No. 9, he stepped up to the spot to unerringly fire Germany ahead.
In the 37th minute, it was Mueller's hassling of Pepe that made the Real Madrid defender shove an arm - and then his head - into his face to earn a red card which swung the game into Germany's favour.
OUT OF NOWHERE
And, just moments before half-time, Pepe's defensive partner Bruno Alves thought he had successfully booted Toni Kroos' cross into orbit, only to watch in horror as Mueller's gangly leg appeared out of nowhere to thwart his clearance.
The ball sat up for the German, who then swung his boot at it and watched as goalkeeper Rui Patricio deflected the ball into goal.
Mueller was not done yet.
Even with Joachim Leow's men playing at second gear and relying on the speed of Andre Schuerrle and Goetze to sporadically threaten the Portuguese goal, Mueller was a threat.
He almost nodded the ball in for his third off a rebound, after Patricio saved Mesut Oezil's effort.
Mueller eventually capped his hat-trick though, and in true "Raumdeuter" style.
Schuerrle drilled a low cross into the six-yard box, Patricio fumbled, and who else could have been Johnny On The Spot to steer the ball home from two metres but Mueller?
Even then, he lost his balance and fell on his butt, but it was not as if he cared.
Make no mistake about it, Mueller doesn't have the elegance of Dimitar Berbatov or Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
But he already has eight World Cup goals in just seven games, and at 24, he still has possibly two more tournaments in him.
Who needs a proper striker when you have Mueller?
- Total shots: Germany 13, Portugal 14
- Corners: Germany 4, Portugal 6
- Offsides: Germany 2, Portugal 1
- Fouls committed: Germany 8, Portugal 11
- Yellow cards: Germany 0, Portugal 1
- Red cards: Germany 0, Portugal 1
- Ball possession: Germany 54%, Portugal 46%