Germany shocked by Japan’s comeback at latest World Cup

DOHA, Qatar — Since Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina in Qatar in 2022, there has been not just another upset, but another unexpected upset as a supposed minnow flipped the heavyweight favorite.

Germany took the lead in the first half on Wednesday thanks to Ilkay Gundogan penalties but substitutions Ritsu Doan as well as Takuma Asano hit in the last 15 minutes to turn the tie upside down.

Japan’s 2-1 win highlights just how shaky this German team has become, especially when they’re in control.

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Fast reaction

1. Japanese submarines are huge

Four years ago, Japan was on the verge of knocking out Belgium and reaching the quarter-finals of the World Cup. This time around, they started with perhaps the biggest shock result they’ve ever achieved, over four-time world champion Germany. But their 2-1 win owes a lot to this team to keep their cool and make game-changing substitutions.

Having conceded a goal after the goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda conceding an unnecessary penalty, in the first half, with little Germany creating, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu scored all of his substitutions. Kaoru Mitoma suggested creativity and ingenuity on the left; Takuma Asano was a whirlwind of energy and precision; Takehiro Tomiyasu offered such stability in the rear that allowed Japan to be more attacking and Takumi Minamino (in his own way, sometimes inaccurately), wreaked havoc and played a big role in the equalizer.

Japan went from counter-attacking in the first half to a much more intense pressing game in midfield and a striking style in transition that shocked Germany. I’m not sure they could have turned the tide if it weren’t for five spares.

2. Germany’s one-sided attack failed

Germany ended the game with Mario Gotze, Yussouf Mukoko as well as Nicholas Fullkrug forward. In other words, a former phenomenon who was written off three years ago and who is only now timidly returning, a guy who just turned 18 on the day the World Cup started, and a guy who won (at 29 years old) only his second Germany. lid.

This was coach Hansi Flick’s Plan B and it must be a serious problem. Flick had to turn to Plan B because Plan A had so many pieces that didn’t quite fit together.

Kai Havertz forever stuck between following instructions and following instinct; Thomas Müller slowly moved to the right flank and stood in the way of Serge Gnabry. Meanwhile, the 19-year-old star Jamal Musiala showed glimpses of genius, but was relegated to an area far to the left, which does little for his immense talent.

The focus will be on an uncharacteristic collapse for Germany and defensive mistakes on the part of Nico Schlotterbeck and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (passer at the near post). But this was mainly due to the fact that the front six of Germany could not control the game in the second half (Plan A). And this plan B is like trying to make Thanksgiving dinner with the stuff you can buy at the gas station.

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3. Germany can’t afford another slip.

It’s a tournament that constantly refers to the past, so it’s almost inevitable that the specter of what happened in Russia in 2018, when Germany exited the group stage for the first time in its post-war history after being defeated by South Korea, will now be the subject of conversation.

And indeed, if you add Euro 2020 – when Germany whimpered in the first round of the playoff against Gareth Southgate’s England – you have a lot of self-doubt.

This is an unusual position for Germany and the German public. They need to remember that no matter how scary Spain is (or maybe not… it’s hard to tell what you’ll get with Luis Enrique), they control their own destiny. Good news? Costa Rica and Spain, the other teams in the group, play completely different football. The bad news? If Germany plays the same as after the break, it won’t matter much.

Player Ratings

Germany: Neuer 5, Süle 6, Rüdiger 6, Schlotterbeck 4, Raum 6, Kimmich 7, Gundogan 6, Gnabry 6, Müller 5, Musiala 7, Havertz 5.

Subscriptions: Goretzka 5, Mukoko 6, Hofmann 5, Gotze 5, Fullkrug 5.

Japan: Gonda 6, Sakai 7, Itakura 7, Yoshida 6, Nagatomo 5, Endo 7, Tanaka 7, Ito 8, Kamada 6, Maeda 5, Kubo 5.

Subscriptions: Minamino 6, Asano 8, Tomiyasu 8, Mitoma 8, Doan 7.

Best and Worst Performers

BEST: Junya Ito

As tempted as it might be to choose a replacement such as Mitoma or Asano, it was Ito who offered the most both in the transition period and in undermining the German fortification. Quality and quantity together… what more could you want.

WORST: Nico Schlotterback

It’s not just that he was beaten, like during the second goal (maybe he thought Neuer covered him, well… no), it’s that after Japan picked up the pace in the second half, his positioning and clearances became increasingly erratic. .

Highlights and Notable Moments

The controversy over FIFA’s threats to impose sanctions over the OneLove armband continued as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was thoroughly checked before the match, German players covered their mouth with their hands during a team photo, and German minister Nancy Faezer slipped through security and sat next to the FIFA President Gianni Infantino. .

On the pitch, Germany’s David Rauma was fouled by Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, possibly twice, resulting in a penalty for the first goal.

But Japan changed the situation at the end of the second half. And how did it get in?

After the match: what the players and managers said

Germany coach Hansi Flick: Niklas [Sule] just gotta pay attention. He put him on his side because he sank two or three steps further. These are individual mistakes that we had to pay for today.

“We had 78% possession in the first half and deservedly took the lead. In the phase when we were better, we had a lot of chances to score, but we didn’t use them. Japan beat us today effectively. The individual mistakes we made in the second half shouldn’t happen to us. Now we need to set up the players. We won’t have a pleasant ride home.”

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu.: “In the end, they attacked us with full force, in the past we might have lost, but the players played in Germany and Europe, they learned a lot, so we held on. we had to hold on until the final whistle blew and we were able to take our opportunity.”

“We wanted to start aggressively, we wanted to dominate the game, but Germany is very strong so we had to defend hard and take our chances. In our tactics, we had many options, and we considered many scenarios. could score a goal, we planned it, we prepared for it.”

Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda: “It was very difficult, we fought a lot. But this is the World Cup, everyone wants to play. Substitutions came out and charged the team with energy. Maybe one player is not so strong, but together we were able to do it.” “

Basic statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– Germany last scored a penalty in regular time when Thomas Müller scored against Portugal in the 2014 World Cup group stage.

– Gündoğan’s goal was the 12th penalty scored by Germany (in regular/extra time) at the World Cup – the third highest of any nation. And 5 of Gundogan’s last 6 goals for Germany were penalties.

– This is the 68th World Cup match in which Germany scored the first goal, the most among the teams. (Brazil – 67 – game on Thursday.)

– Japan has never won a World Cup game by conceding the first goal (0-7-2, WLD).

– Germany were unbeaten in their previous 21 World Cup matches, leading at half-time by 20-0-1 (WLD). Their last defeat while leading at halftime in the World Cup was in the second group stage against Austria in 1974 as West Germany.

– Asano’s goal was Japan’s last World Cup winning goal.

– It was Germany’s second match in a row at the World Cup where they lost to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Their last match at the 2018 World Cup was a loss to South Korea. Before these two defeats in a row, Germany had never lost to an AFC team in a World Cup.

– It was the first time that two substitutes scored for an Asian team in a World Cup match.

– Japan closed as +600 underdog in Caesars Sportsbook.


Germany: It was supposed to be a game that potentially determined who would lead the group, but after Germany’s defeat to Japan, they face Spain at Al-Bayt Stadium on November 27 at 22:00 local time / 14:00 ET. A poor result means that Germany could fly out earlier.

Japan: Costa Rica will play Japan at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium from 1 pm local time / 5 am ET where they can seriously compete for first place.

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