You only have to take one look at the last few European Championship mascots to see that Uefa are nothing more than a sorry shower of cultural thugs, with little or no interest in art, beauty, or indeed anything that isn't a big teeming pot of cash. Look at the state of Slavek, Slavko, Trix and Flix. Just look at the committee-designed, focus-grouped state of them. Kinas was no better. Remember Kinas? Thought not. As for Benelucky - an infinitely more colourful and cheerful descendant of Rory from Animal Kwackers, the second-most-disturbing children's television character of all time - well, it's just not good enough. Cultural thugs, I tells ya.
It wasn't always like this. Look at the homely charm of Pinocchio from Europa 80! Aw!
This game has all the tools to be great. Germany are the second favourites to lift the Henri Delauney Trophy on July 1, and no wonder. They have a marvellous array of talent in their squad: Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mehmut Ozil, Lukas Podolski, Miroslav Klose, Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer, Phillipe Lahm, and Mario Galoot. Portugal meanwhile are outrageously styled as a one-man shower, but what reductive nonsense: as well as Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been rattling them in for fun in the Scottish Premier Liga, Os Navegadores can also boast Nani, Raul Meireles, Fábio Coentrão and João Moutinho. Classic, please!
Germany have had the better of the recent major-championship action between these two teams. They won 3-2 in the quarter-finals at Euro 2008, and 3-1 in the third-place play-off at their own World Cup two years earlier. Portugal were on top at Euro 2000, though, a 3-0 thrashing seen by many Germans as their team's nadir. The only other meeting between these countries at the business end of a big tourney was a 0-0 draw in the group stage of Euro 84. Small sample and all that, but whenever these teams meet at a Euro finals, one or t'other gets to the semi-finals at least. You'd fancy that run continuing this year, no?
The full head to head record: Seventeen games, Germany eight wins, Portugal three, and five draws.
Germany's pre-tournament friendlies: A preposterous 5-3 tonking in Switzerland, followed by a scrappy 2-0 win at home over Israel. Oh dear.
Portugal's pre-tournament friendlies: A 0-0 draw with Macedonia, followed by a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of Turkey. Oh dear.
Kick off: 7.45pm BST, 9.45pm EEST (local time in Lviv).
Germany: Neuer, Boateng, Hummels, Badstuber, Lahm, Khedira, Schweinsteiger, Muller, Ozil, Podolski, Gomez.
Subs: Wiese, Gundogan, Schmelzer, Howedes, Schurrle, Klose, Bender, Mertesacker, Kroos, Gotze, Reus, Zieler.
Portugal: Rui Patricio, Joao Pereira, Bruno Alves, Pepe, Fabio Coentrao, Meireles, Veloso, Joao Moutinho, Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo.
Subs: Eduardo, Custodio, Almeida, Quaresma, Nelson Oliveira, Ricardo Costa, Rolando, Ruben Micael, Varela, Miguel Lopes, Hugo Viana, Beto.
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France).
(The scariest children's television character of all time, for the record: The original Bungle from Rainbow, Glaswegian Bungle, who would have had no qualms at coming at you with a broken bottle while making a request for your jacket.)
The other game in this group, in case you missed it earlier today, was a corker: Holland 0-1 Denmark. Michael Krohn-Dehli's 24th-minute winner has put the cat among the pigeons in this group. A win for Portugal here will really mess with everyone's head, and make Wednesday's Germany-Holland match a full-blown cracker. Wednesday's Germany-Holland match will be a full-blown cracker anyway, but you know what I'm getting at. Gotta love 16-team Euros!
The teams are out! And they're listening to their Special Music! Portugal, kitted out in their red shirts with green trim, get first go. Their anthem has a slight whiff of old-school despotic regime about it. Up in the stands, Jose Mourinho points at his countrymen in a similarly totalitarian manner. Germany next, in their crisp white shirts, and they bang out Joseph Haydn's Song of Germany. One of the all-time classics, and no mistake.
And we're off! The game starts, at which point the clown on the PA begins a loud countdown to kick-off. Well done, Uefa!
2 min: Boateng sends a ball into the Portuguese box from the right. Gomez gets his head to the ball, and attempts to guide it into the top right. Rui Patricio is behind it all the way. "Introducing scary telly is a very dodgy path to go down," writes Clare A. Davies. "I welcome you to the very scary Singing Ringing Tree and any Moomintroll with the Groke."
3 min: Fabio Coentrao flings a diagonal pass into the German area from the left. It's guided out by a German head for a corner. Raul Meireles waits to take it, and is showered by paper cups for his trouble. The set piece, when it eventually arrives, is a complete waste of time. A lively start, this, though.
6 min: So much for that lively start. Both teams take turns to knock it around a bit, and go absolutely nowhere. "Speaking (well, typing) as a Glasweigan, I object to the attack-with-a-broken-bottle stereotype," writes Saturday-evening-MBM regular Ryan Dunne. "In order to obtain a bottle to break, one would have to be drinking Smirnoff Ice, Bottled Beer, WKD bacardi breezer etc etc, whereas of course REAL Glasweigan Stereotypes drink pints. That was one scary bear though. Looks like the guy in that scene from The Shining." Ryan, a whole email, and you've not once crowbarred in a mention of the Glorious Glasgow Rangers. Are you unwell?
8 min: The gathered throng has taken to slow handclapping. And now some whistles. Eight minutes gone! Tough crowd.
10 min: Muller, diddling down the right, slides a low ball right across the face of the Portuguese box. Gomez, cutting in from the left, meets the ball first time with the outside of his boot, the ball fizzing straight at Rui Patricio. The keeper parries, then smothers, although he was always pretty much in control of the situation, and there were no other white shirts lurking.
11 min: Still no email from Ryan Dunne about Rangers. I'm worried.
12 min: Ozil so nearly breaks free into the Portuguese area down the inside-left channel, but has the ball taken off his toe mid-shimmy by Pepe. Portugal sweep upfield, where Ronaldo would have been set free down the left had the ball forward from Joao Moutinho not been a witless hoof into the stand.
13 min: Neuer is forced to rush from his area to hoick a loose backpass clear. He does so, but is caught by Postiga, sliding in late. That's a booking, albeit a harsh one: Postiga did catch the keeper, but he was within his rights to go for the loose ball. It was 51-49 in favour of Neuer, who once clipped went down like a sack of wet, decomposing, organic matter. Get up for the love of all that's right and proper.
14 min: Neuer gets up.
17 min: Ronaldo goes on a rococo meander down the left. Stepover one, two, three, four. He reaches the byline having thoroughly confused Boateng, and nearly finds Nani at the far post with a low ball. The cross is deflected out for a corner on the right, from which nowt happens. That was fantastic play by Ronaldo, though.
19 min: Germany pass it around the back a lot. It's a bit like watching Liverpool in the late 1970s, only none of these players are any good at winning European Cups.
21 min: Veloso lifts a basic long ball straight down the middle. On the edge of the area, Ronaldo is this close to getting in between Hummels and the advancing Neuer, but the keeper leaps to claim. "This is the close season!" splutters Ryan Dunne. "I'd have mentioned the Glorious Glasgow Rangers if you guys had done, as you should, a Her Majesty the Queen's Diamond Jubillee MBM." Apologies to all republicans for rattling his cage. My fault.
22 min: The crowd are getting bilingually bollocked for the paper-cup-throwing incident. This PA announcer seems to have been parping on for half the match.
24 min: Meireles attempts to insert the toe of his boot into the back of Khedira's troosers. Free kick. Which is a shame for Germany, as Khedira had poked the ball forward, releasing Gomez into the area down the inside-right channel. The forward steers the ball into the bottom-left hand corner of the net, and looks right narked when he realises it won't count. Podolski hammers a witless free kick straight into the wall, possibly out of sheer frustration.
27 min: Khedira, standing in a puddle - there was a rare old pelt before kick-off, unreported by your idiotic MBM scribe - sweeps a ball from the right wing to the left-hand corner of the Portuguese box. Podolski attempts to meet it with a spectacular scissor kick, and indeed it is spectacular, but only in the way you're already thinking.
30 min: Joao Pereira snaps a lovely cross into the German box from the right, but there's nobody in the middle to meet it. Badstuber heads clear. Germany go straight up the other end through Ozil down the left. Ozil slides a delicious pass into the centre for Podolski, standing on the edge of the area. It's a real chance - he's in loads of space - but the striker sends the ball into orbit. That was hellishly poor. "Frightening children's characters?" begins Sean Clayton, before answering his own question. "Bosco always scared the proverbials out of me - the whole shiny wooden face plus squeaky voice still squeals 'undetected serial killer' to me."
32 min: Germany play das bundestikiundtakafussball in the middle of the park. They go absolutely nowhere. Put your foot through it, lads, Spain are so 2010.
35 min: Muller is close to dropping a shoulder and skating clear down the right, and into the Portuguese box, but Coentrao slides in with a majestic challenge. It's not quite clicking, this, but it's diverting enough all the same. "Regarding the suggestion that real Glasweigians do not drink from glass bottles, I would like to remind and reassure all your readers that the traditional tonic wine diet is still well and truly alive in our fair city," writes Craig Stewart. "Buckfast alone is responsible for most of my children."
37 min: Khedira has a dig from 25 yards or so. The ball sails 25 yards or so above the bar.
40 min: Podolski slides a pass towards Ozil down the left. Ozil hammers a low ball in the direction of the six-yard area and Schweinsteiger. Bruno Alves slides in to clear, with the German midfielder waiting to tap in. Superb defending.
41 min: Muller mishits a cross from the right. Ozil picks the ball up on the left, and mishits his cross straight back to Muller, who tries to guide a low first-time shot into the bottom-left corner while cutting in from his wing. That's not going in, sir.
42 min: Pereira has a shot from distance. It's not a good one at all, dragged low and miles wide right.
43 min: Nani looks to break clear down the right. Badstuber slides in and catches the back of his boot. He's booked, and fairly so, although the German fans make their displeasure at the decision known at high volume. The resulting free kick is dispatched straight down Neuer's throat.
44 min: The dude on the PA is yakking his neck again. A few more paper cups have been lanced pitchward, and they're threatening to abandon the match.
45 min: From a Portuguese corner on the right, the ball lands at the feet of Pepe, inexplicably in acres of space on the penalty spot. He takes a touch, and hammers a clever shot towards the top corner. The ball clatters the crossbar, twangs the right-hand post, bounces down onto the line, and away. Portugal scream for a goal, but the ball was plumb on the line. So unlucky for Portugal, but a great decision by all the referees, and thank Christ we're not going to suffer another tedious debate about goalline technology.
HALF TIME: Germany 0-0 Portugal. And that's that for the half. Not great, not terrible. Portugal will go in both frustrated, and yet with their tails up, after that marvellous effort from Pepe. More like the 45th minute, and less of the other 44, please, teams!
HALF-TIME ENTERTAINMENT with Pompel Og Pilt
"We may be rubbish at football, having patented the Chelsea Way back in the 90's under the leadership of Egil Drillo Olsen," writes Robin Sebastian Fjeldstad, "but at least we Norwegians know how to mentally scar our children." This looks magnificent. Can you translate? Are they trying to break into that house?
And we're off again! Germany get the ball rolling. I might not be able to type for shaking. Pompel Og Pilt!
46 min: Portugal fail to come out for the start of the half. Khedira takes a shot from the edge of the area. The ball ricochets wide right to Muller, who hits a low cross-cum-shot into the area. Meireles slides in to divert the ball wide right. The resulting corner is headed weakly wide left by Khedira. What a start to the half that so nearly was for the Germans.
47 min: Portugal respond first with a skedaddle down the right by Nani, who fails to find Ronaldo in the centre. Then half a minute later Ronaldo hits a weak shot from the inside-left channel, straight at Neuer. "The actor who played the original scary Bungle in Rainbow was John Leeson," writes Nick Higgins, "later to the be voice of K9 in Dr Who."
50 min: Ronaldo takes a high ball down brilliantly, and skitters down the right. He wins a corner. Which is wasted, but Portugal have responded brilliantly to that sluggish start to the half. "I've been to Glasgow once," begins Matt Dony's email, one you just know isn't going to end well. "I arrived at about 3:30 on a Wednesday afternoon, and the first pub I walked past had karaoke blaring, with revellers literally falling out of the door. I then saw a bald man urinate, not so much against, but near a tree. I love it when people live up (down?) to stereotypes." In fairness that sounds like Kings Cross, home of your super soaraway Guardian. Only with fewer Glaswegians.
53 min: Portugal win a corner down the left. From the left-hand corner of the box, Veloso dinks a clever diagonal ball towards Postiga at the far post. Postiga heads back in the direction of Ronaldo in the middle, but the ball had just gone out. They're the stronger team at the moment.
56 min: Ozil twists and turns down the inside-left channel. He hits a clever reverse pass between two red shirts towards Podolski, who is this close to bursting clear into the area, but miscontrols. "Yes, the Singing Ringing Tree was scary," shudders Gary Naylor, "but nothing compares to Sir Robert Helpman's Child Catcher. Cherry Pie anyone?"
58 min: Gomez, standing on the penalty spot, lets a left-wing cross hit his face. The ball balloons miles over the bar. For anyone interested, Robin Sebastian Fjeldstad has sent a version of Pompel Og Pilt with English subtitles. I can't watch it, and that's not because I have to MBM this match. I just can't. Pompel Og Pilt!
60 min: Coentrao picks up a yellow for a terrible rake down the back of Muller's leg. He's the picture of innocence, but come on.
63 min: It's becoming a wee bit turgid, this. Goal, please!
65 min: Moutinho, romping down the inside-right channel, slides a lovely diagonal pass along the ground to release Ronaldo into the area down the inside left. Just as Ronaldo cocks his leg back to pull the trigger, Boateng slides in from nowhere and queers the Real Madrid man's patch. What a last-ditch challenge! And Portugal aren't even getting a corner. Wonderful play all round.
67 min: Seems it wasn't paper cups being flung from the stands in the first half, but scrunched up balls of paper.
68 min: A4 or A5 I wonder? Not much happening in this match, you know.
69 min: Boateng is booked for placing both hands on Ronaldo's shoulders and hauling him back. This is really poor now, although the crowd are giving it plenty. It'd be nice if the players respond.
70 min: Nelson Oliveira comes on for Postiga.
71 min: This is risible. Muller battles well to break free down the inside right. He's got options: team-mates in the middle, or the chance to have a shot himself. He ends up shanking a dreadful ball miles out of play over on the left.
72 min: GOAL! Germany 1-0 Portugal. And this is brilliant! Such a simple goal. Gomez, who was seconds away from being replaced by Klose, scores. Standing on the penalty spot, he guides Khedira's deep right-wing cross back across Rui Patricio and into the right-hand corner of the net. A lovely finish. Klose is told to sit back down.
75 min: Portugal look highly annoyed. Ronaldo bustles around down the inside-right channel, but can't keep control. Germany sweep up the other end, Ozil swinging a ball in from the left. Meireles is forced to hack clear. "Not liking this slagging of Glasgow; it is highly cultured with three universities, has thriving tech and Finance industries as well as home to some of the greatest architecture in the UK," writes Stephen Mccormack. "Still, don't ask for Lager and lime in the pub: we don't do cocktails."
77 min: Space for Muller down the right. He whips a low, hard ball straight through the Portuguese box. Gomez, a new galoot after the goal, slides in and is this close to getting a toe to the cross and poking home. Lovely high-speed direct football.
80 min: Gomez, as planned before his goal, is replaced by Klose, who is 34 years old today.
81 min: And now a change for Portugal. Varela comes on for Meireles.
82 min: Here's Dean Jensen: "Dear Portugal, Now is the time to score 1 goal, and 1 goal only. Love, Denmark." Well, Ronaldo certainly tries his best, cutting inside from the left and hammering a low shot goalwards from the edge of the area. It's a fair old pelt, and Neuer deals with it in a very shoddy manner, the ball ballooning miles into the air before bouncing out for a corner. Nothing much comes of it, but Portugal have come alive again.
84 min: Moutinho has a rake from the edge of the area. Deflected. Over. Neuer didn't look too sure of where that was heading. In the next phase of play, Nani mishits a cross from the right touchline. The ball sails along a Baroque arc, and so nearly Koncheskys into the net. But no: it twangs off the left-hand corner of crossbar and post, and away. Neuer, backtracking, once again had no clue where that was going.
86 min: Nani glides in from the right, keeps heading left, and eventually screws a half-decent-but-no-more shot wide left of Neuer's goal. Germany are touching cloth here.
87 min: Ozil is replaced by Kroos.
88 min: This should have been the equaliser. Nelson Oliveira heads down the inside-left channel after a long ball. He takes it down wonderfully well, then powers to the byline before pulling a superlative reverse ball between two defenders and straight through the six-yard area. The ball ends up at the feet of Varela, who attempts to dink a finish over Neuer, but finds his effort brilliantly smothered by the big keeper. That was world-class work from Nelson Oliveira.
90 min: There will be three added minutes of this.
90 min +1: Germany pin Portugal back in their own half.
90 min +2: PA Bloke takes to the mic once again, to bollock whoever threw a firework into the German area. "You can support your team with applause, not fireworks!" he tut-tuts. I'm not entirely sure support was the aim.
90 min +3: Ronaldo shimmies and shakes down the left. He reaches the byline, and pulls the ball back for Nani, who sidefoots goalwards. But Badstuber closes Nani down well, and the shot is deflected wide left off the defender's shoulder.
90 min +4: Muller is replaced by Bender. Bruno Alves meets Portugal's left-wing corner with a thumping header, but his effort sails over the bar.
90 min +5: Bruno Alves, going for that header, has clattered Schweinsteiger. It's treatment time!
FULL TIME: Germany 1-0 Portugal. And there goes the final whistle! Germany were slightly fortunate to take all three points, especially given the way Portugal ended the match, but their goal was magnificent. They're second in the group, alphabetically trailing Denmark, who won't be too worried about anything they've seen tonight. Although Germany are only going to get better, aren't they?
Pompel Og Pilt, though. Pompel Og Pilt!