Germany stunned after Japan comeback in recent World Cup shock

DOHA, Qatar — After Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina, Qatar 2022 saw not only another upset but another upset, with the perceived minnow turning the strong favorite on its head.

Germany took the lead in the first half with an Ilkay Gündogan penalty, but substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano scored in the last 15 minutes to turn the tie on its head.

Japan’s 2-1 win underscores just how shaky this German side has become, especially when they seem to be in control.

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Fast reaction

1. Japan subs make a big difference

Four years ago, Japan came close to knocking out Belgium and progressing to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. This time they started with what is probably the biggest shock result they have ever achieved: over four-time world champions Germany. But their 2-1 win owes much to this side’s ability to stay calm and make the kind of game-changing substitutions.

After goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda conceded an unnecessary penalty, Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu made all his substitutions perfectly in a first half where Germany created little. Kaoru Mitoma, bottom left, offered creativity and inventiveness; Takuma Asano was a whirlwind of energy and precision; Takehiro Tomiyasu offered the kind of stability in defense that allowed Japan to ramp up in offense and Takumi Minamino (in his own sometimes sloppy way) wreaked havoc and played a big part in equalizing.

Japan went from the counter-attacking strategy of the first half to a much more intense pressing play in midfield and a hit-to-switch style that shook Germany. I’m not sure she could have filmed it if it wasn’t for the five substitutes.

2. Germany’s unilateral attack fails

Germany finished the game with Mario Götze, Youssoufa Moukoko and Niclas Fullkrug up front. In other words, a one-off phenomenon that was written off three years ago and is only now tentatively returning, a guy who only turned 18 on the day the World Cup began and a guy who, at 29, only wins his second Germany international .

That was coach Hansi Flick’s Plan B and that must be a serious concern for us. Flick had to turn to Plan B because Plan A consisted of many pieces that didn’t quite fit together.

Kai Havertz was constantly caught between following instructions and following his instincts; Thomas Müller slowly drifted onto the right flank and got in the way of Serge Gnabry. Meanwhile, 19-year-old star Jamal Musiala shone but was relegated to an area far out on the left that does little to his immense talent.

The focus is on Germany’s atypical slump and defensive errors by Nico Schlotterbeck and goalkeeper Manuel Neuer (conceding a goal at the near post). But basically it was a function of the German front six who couldn’t control the game in the second half (Plan A). . And that Plan B is the equivalent of trying to fix Thanksgiving lunch with stuff you might pick up at the gas station.

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3. Germany cannot afford another note

This is a tournament that’s constantly looking back on the past, so it’s all but inevitable that the specter of what happened in Russia 2018 will surface – Germany were eliminated in the group stage for the first time in their post-war history after losing to South Korea out – will now provide a topic of conversation.

And indeed, when you throw in Euro 2020 – when Germany were knocked out by Gareth Southgate’s England in the round of 16 with a whimper – plenty of self-doubt creeps in.

This is an unfamiliar position for Germany and the German public. They have to remember that as scary as it may be (or not… it’s hard to say what you get with Luis Enrique), Spain controls their own destiny. The good news? Costa Rica and Spain, the other teams in the group, play very different football. The bad news? If Germany play the way they played after the break, it won’t make much of a difference.

Player Ratings

Germany: Neuer 5, Column 6, Rüdiger 6, Schlotterbeck 4, Room 6, Kimmich 7, Gündogan 6, Gnabry 6, Müller 5, Musiala 7, Havertz 5.

Subtitle: Goretzka 5, Moukoko 6, Hofmann 5, Götze 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.

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

Best and worst performers

BEST: Junya Ito

As tempting as one is to choose substitutes like Mitoma or Asano, it was Ito who offered the most in both the transition and disruption of the German build-up. Quality and quantity combined… what more could you ask for.

Worst: Nico Schlotterbeck

It’s not just about being beaten like he did on the second goal (maybe he thought Neuer had it covered, well he didn’t), it’s the way Japan keep the pace in the increased in the second half, his positioning and clearances becoming increasingly unpredictable.

Highlights and notable moments

The row over the threat of sanctions from FIFA over the “OneLove” armband continued as goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was thoroughly examined before the game, German players covered their mouths during a team photo and German minister Nancy Faeser hid her old security next to the FIFA President sat Gianni Infantin.

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

But Japan turned things around towards the end of the second half. And how did that go in?

After the game: What the players and coaches said


Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

– The last time Germany scored a penalty goal in regulation time was when Thomas Muller converted against Portugal in the group stage of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

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

– This is the 68th World Cup game in which Germany has scored the first goal, the most of any team. (Brazil – 67 – plays on Thursday.)

– Japan had never won a game at the World Cup when they conceded the first goal (0-7-2, WLD.)

– Germany were unbeaten in their last 21 World Cup games when they led at half-time – 20-0-1 (WLD). Their last loss in the World Cup half-time lead came in 1974 in the second group stage against Austria as West Germany.

– Asano’s goal was Japan’s last game-winner at the World Cup.

– It was the second consecutive World Cup game for Germany to lose against a team from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). Their last game at the 2018 World Cup was lost to South Korea. Before those two consecutive defeats, Germany had never lost to an AFC team at a World Cup.

– It was the first team to score two substitutes for an Asian team in a World Cup game.

– Japan finished as a +600 underdog at Caesars Sportsbook.


Germany: It was supposed to be the game that could decide who will top the group, but after Germany’s defeat by Japan, they meet Spain in the final Al Bayt Stadium on November 27 at 10pm local time / 2pm ET. A bad result and Germany could be eliminated early.

Japan: Costa Rica meets Japan at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium from 1:00 p.m. local time / 5:00 a.m. ET.


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