SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — Coach Joachim Loew left Germany's all-time leading scorer on the bench in the World Cup opener against Portugal and it proved to be the right move.
Loew raised some eyebrows in Germany when he decided to call up only one classic striker into his squad, the country's top-scoring Miroslav Klose.
But Loew's decision to put his faith in Thomas Mueller paid dividends on Monday, when the attacking midfielder scored his first hat trick for Germany in a 4-0 romp over Portugal in their Group G opener.
"He is such an unorthodox player, as a coach you never know what he is about to do," Loew said. "For opponents, he is very unpredictable, he only has one thought on his mind and that is to score a goal."
Klose has surpassed legendary Gerd Mueller with 69 goals for Germany and needs one more in the World Cup to tie the record of 15 held by Brazil's Ronaldo.
But even such credentials were not enough to get the 36-year-old Klose a spot in the starting lineup.
Loew has been favoring a "false nine" system, with attacking midfielders swapping positions and passes to break clear of the defenders.
It worked like a dream against Portugal.
Mario Goetze and Mesut Ozil created chances but failed to score themselves. Mueller, however, pounced on every opportunity.