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Neuer: Playing Portugal will be 'like a final'

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 15, 2014 at 11:56 am •  Published: June 15, 2014

SALVADOR, Brazil (AP) — For Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, playing a team of Portugal's caliber and featuring a star of Cristiano Ronaldo's class gives their World Cup group opener the feel of a game with a higher status.

"After that match, we will really know where we stand,"Neuer told a news conference Sunday on the eve of the Group G encounter. It's a rematch of the Euro 2012 opener, when Germany beat Portugal 1-0.

Three points in this match will go a long way toward helping the winner advance from a group that also contains Ghana and the United States.

"In a way, it's almost like a final," said Neuer, who was feeling upbeat after recovering from a shoulder injury.

Ronaldo is likely to play, despite lingering knee problems, and Neuer said if the Portugal forward is fit "he will be the top danger for our team."

Germany Coach Joachim Loew agreed, saying Ronaldo and his teammates "are the kings of counter-attacks."

"This is the match between the 2nd- and the 4th-ranked teams — that tells it all," Loew said, referring to the FIFA world rankings that list his team at No. 2, two spots ahead of Portugal.

However, Portugal has not had much luck against Germany at major tournaments. Germany won 3-1 in the match for third place at the 2006 World Cup, beat Portugal 3-2 at the 2008 European Championship and won the Euro 2012 opener.

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