The defender explained it would have been foolish to attempt to man-mark such a “perfect” player, with Joachim Low’s men instead opting to work as a unit against the forward
By Mark Doyle in Salvador
Benedikt Howedes hailed Germany’s “simple” but effective plan for containing Cristiano Ronaldo in Monday’s 4-0 pummeling of World Cup Group G rivals Portugal in Salvador.
The Real Madrid superstar started brightly at Arena Fonte Nova but his influence faded after the Seleccao were reduced to 10 men when Pepe was dismissed for a headbutt on Thomas Muller just before the break.
Ronaldo tried to rally his side after the interval but was restricted to pot-shots from distance as Portugal slumped to a 4-0 defeat.
Howedes was, therefore, understandably enthused by the way in which he and his fellow defenders had combined to cope with the threat posed by the Ballon d’Or holder.
“We had a simple plan,” Howedes told Goal after the game.
“You have 11 players on the pitch and you have to rely on all of them to stop these kind of perfect individual players.
“But, also, the whole back four kept an eye on him and defended him well today.”
While a clearly frustrated Ronaldo floundered, Thomas Muller flourished, scoring a hat-trick.
The versatile Bayern Munich attacker claimed the Golden Boot at World Cup 2010 and Howedes feels his team-mate is entirely capable of again finishing as the tournament’s top scorer.
“He’s awesome,” the Schalke player enthused. “The way he thinks on the pitch is amazing.
“He can score goals when there doesn’t seem to be any chance to do so. He’s truly incredible.”
Howedes was also pleased with his own performance, having been asked by coach Joachim Low to take on the unfamiliar role of left-back on his World Cup debut.
“It’s not my first-choice position as I’m a natural central defender but in a tournament like this it’s even more necessary than normal to be versatile,” the 26-year-old mused.
“We all just wanted to defend well – this was what the coach asked of us – and I think I had a good performance that helped the team in this battle against Portugal.
“I’m proud to have made my first appearance in the World Cup and I’m happy that we had such a good result.”