Another day and another upset. While the whole world was still getting to terms with the magnitude of the upset that Saudi Arabia caused over Messi’s Argentina, their fellow Asian counterparts Japan, not wanting to be left behind went on and shocked 4-time world champions Germany 2-1 to make this tournament one for the underdogs.
It followed a similar pattern as the Saudi game, where Germany took the lead in the first half through a penalty and then the Japanese came back storming. Germany played well for three quarters of the game, but in the end found themselves on the wrong side of the whistle when the game ended. There were certain mistakes which sunk the Germans inspite of Japan being alive to the situation when it mattered.
FIFA World Cup 2022: Let’s have a look at where Germany lost the plot-
1. Failure to convert chances in their opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2022
In the first half, The Germans were absolutely dominant to the point that the game should have been signed, sealed and delivered by the half-time whistle. But the old ugly head of not able to finish their chances came back to haunt them in another major tournament. The likes of Gundogan, Havertz, Musiala, and Gnabry all had chances to score and put the game to bed, but none of them were able to find the finishing touch on them.
This meant that Japan were still only 1-0 down and by no means out of the game. Like Kimmich said after the game, “We should have killed them with the quality of chances we had. But we let them live”. With Germany facing a Spain side fresh from mauling a hapless Costa Rica, the Germans cannot afford to miss chances like they did yesterday.
2. Defensive lapses in key moments
If their performance in attack left a lot to be desired, their performance at the back was somehow even more fraught with deep-lying issues. For the Japanese winner by Asano, all it took to unravel this German defence consisting of the likes of Rudiger, Schlotterbeck, Raum, and Sule was one deep, long ball from deep inside the Japan half.
While Rudiger and Schlotterbeck instinctively went to play the offside trap, this was something that did not reach fellow defender Niklas Sule. And by the time Schlotterbeck did come to realise the magnitude of that danger, it was a case of too little too late.
And then Manuel Neuer, who a few minutes ago pulled off a blinder of a save to keep the Japanese at bay, he tamely allowed this shot to squeeze past him on his near post. These are mistakes expected from the likes of smart teams, not Germany.
3. Baffling substitutions
Hansi Flick has slowly and steadily proven himself to be a very good manager, building a very talented German team. But what he did yesterday in terms of substitutions is something that no one can explain.
With the score at 1-0, and the team in need of a kier blow, he brings off Gundogan. The Manchester City man was the best player on the pitch. And also Jamal Musiala, who up until that point was on a mission to single-handedly destroy that Japanese backline. In place of them came Jonas Hoffman and Leon Goretzka.
Now both are fine players in their own right. But they aren’t the players who you expect to change the result in your favor. With the absence of Gundogan on the pitch, Germany were just not able to exert the calmness and authority on the ball. The same quality that saw them complete 422 passes in the first half with Gundo on the pitch. By throwing on Moukoko on to the fray in search for an equalizer, these changes reeked of desperation.
Germany got their team back on track with a formidable Spain. But it was just not enough to advance to the knockout stages of the competition. An upset indeed!!