Germany 'have touched perfection'
The German press has reacted with astonished delight to Germany's 4-0 win over Portugal, lavishing praise on hat trick hero Thomas Muller and coach Joachim Low.
Die Nationalmannschaft swept woeful Portugal aside in Salvador to reawaken memories of Italy 1990, when a 4-1 win over Yugoslavia in the opening match paved the way for what would be the crowning of the pre-reunification generation.
Twenty-four years on, the hammering of Portugal left the German public with "more than just a good feeling," as broadsheet Suddeutsche Zeitung put it in a headline, while Sport Bild, quoting a Venezuelan network, reported Argentina legend Diego Maradona as saying that "Germany have touched perfection."
"This will make Joachim Low's job a bit easier," the paper said. "He had been under fire after the European Championship knockout against Italy in 2012. Now the Bundestrainer, despite all the distractions in the run-up, has perfectly prepared the team and taken the DFB XI into their 100th match at a World Cup. There are a few indications that, in retrospect, it might be much more than just a nice anniversary match."
Berliner Kurier had a picture of Muller and Sami Khedira celebrating one of the Germany goals, and a smiling Michael Schumacher in the bottom right corner. "Schumi awake, Portugal swept away 4-0 -- Oh Happy Day," it headlined.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung singled out Low for "finding the right solutions" and said: "The Guardiola-like structure, the holding midfield around [Philipp] Lahm, turned out to be the key decision in the centre of the game.
"Also the surprising modification of seeking playful and attacking luck with Mario Gotze was a subtle answer to the huge challenge in the opening match."
The third main broadsheet in Germany, Die Welt, said that -- for now -- the optimists had won over the pessimists.
"It was an ecstatic, a wonderful win in which we should rejoice," it said. "Of course, this win can only be the first step towards the pinnacle on which the golden trophy is placed. But it was big step. It not only takes the German team three points closer to the last 16, but moreover is proof of their strength against a strong opponent."
The tabloid Express praised Muller for having the "killer gene," and Bild wondered whether the Germany attacker, who has now scored eight times in only seven World Cup games, could target Ronaldo's all-time tournament record of 15 goals. "Should he keep on scoring, that's anything but unrealistic," it said.