After getting beating by Germany 4-0 in their first match at the 2014 World Cup and seeing the US beat Ghana, Portugal now faces an seemingly “must win” scenario for their second game of group play when they take on the Americans
And they’ll have to do it without their star defender, Pepe, who is suspended for the match due to a red card he received against the Germans.
In the final 10 minutes of the first half, with Germany leading 2-0, Pepe and Thomas Müller got tangled up as Müller was attacking. Pepe elbowed Müller and Müller went down with Pepe called for a penalty. The Portuguese defender then went over to Müller and headbutted him as the German was on the ground.
The two immediately got in a face-to-face confrontation, and referee Milorad Mazic gave Pepe a straight red card, ejecting him from the match and forcing Portugal to play the rest of the way with only 10 players.
What’s more is that FIFA rules state that a player receiving a red card with no prior yellow card issued are given an automatic one-game suspension, thus disqualifying Pepe from playing against the US this upcoming Sunday.
FIFA has the authority, if they see fit, to suspend Pepe for longer than just the one game if they feel the infraction merits it. No matter what, the loss of Pepe for any amount of time is a major blow to a Portuguese team that also lost Hugo Almeida and Fabio Coentrao due to injuries against Germany and seemed quite far from itself in their first showing at the 2014 World Cup.Jeff Pini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JeffPini