Final standings Germany vs. Japan: Another huge World Cup upset as Samurai Blue stunned Germans with late goals

For the second World Cup in a row, Germany started their campaign in disastrous fashion, squandering a first-half lead to lose 2–1 to Spain. Suddenly the 2014 champions are faced with the very realistic prospect of a second successive group stage exit, a self-inflicted crisis that was as much down to disastrous defensive work as the excellence of match winner Takuma Asano.

Any benchmark would indicate that Germany were a vastly superior side for the 75 minutes before Ritsu Doan blasted Japan back to parity, but the feeling was of a dissolute team lacking killer instinct on one side and no composure on the other. Japan showed both in abundance and while there is plenty of work to do to break away from a group with Spain and Costa Rica, they are in a great position to do so. Unlike Hansi Flick’s side, they don’t look like a team that can give away nearly as many easy chances as their opponents.

Initially, Japan might have seen very little of the ball in the first half, but they showed an impressive sense of possession. Daizen Maeda might have taken a very different path in this game in the seventh minute, but after some good work from the Japanese midfield to bag a lingering Ilkay Gundogan, the Celtic striker made his move too early to slip past Manuel Neuer .

That half-open came Japan’s path more than once in the early exchanges, as did the ever-increasing bouts of German possession. Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich would drift from flank to flank, dragging the Japanese back line with them. Indeed, almost the entire side seemed to have been dragged to the right in the 31st minute, with a swipe from his right boot Kimmich dropped the ball onto David Raum’s feet. Shuici Gonda clipped them soon after, the only major mistake in a resolute defensive performance by this team, and Gundogan made him pay from the penalty spot, but when the second arrived, the Japanese goalkeeper would do anything that could be asked of him to take the ball refund. blame with a superb double save from Serge Gnabry.

Kai Havertz could have finished the game before the break, but allowed himself to drift out when he met a cross from Jamal Musiala. That debauchery gave Japanese head coach Hajime Moriyasu the chance to change the game. He grabbed it. Moving to a back three allowed the Blue Samurai to put a lot more pressure on the flanks while keeping the energy they had shown in the first half. Moments after Manuel Neuer’s stunning save denied the dangerous Yunya Ito Hiroki Sakai led on the rebound, the Germany captain could only divert Takumi Minamino’s cross away from the certainty of an Asano goal to Doan, who instead provided the ball.

Japan’s winner started in prosaic fashion, something of a nothing ball in the channel that turned into an extremely effective pass thanks to Niklas Sule standing two meters behind his teammates and offside Asano. There was still plenty to do for the former Arsenal striker, he killed a pass from over 60 yards with one touch and fired the ball over Neuer from a tight angle.

Leon Goretzka shot centimeters wide in seven minutes of extra time, but Germany looked just as likely to give Japan a third, the reused right-back Sule being extremely clumsy with the ball at his feet. In a desperate last-ditch effort, the captain and goalkeeper came in for a barrage of set pieces in the closing seconds, but Gonda held on, more than made up for it.

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