Japan Stuns Germany in Upset Victory

By Jeff Stinger

Japan was quick on its feet and bounced back from an early one-goal deficit to pull off the second upset of the group stage, beating Germany two goals to one. The Khalifa International Stadium roared when the 24th-ranked team took the lead over the 2014 FIFA World Cup Champions. With more interesting storylines coming out of the early days of the competition, here are Nitrobetting’s takeaways from one of the best games of the 2022 FIFA World Cup so far.

Japan Starts the 2022 FIFA World Cup on a High

READ MORE: Spain Sends A Message in Win Over Costa Rica

Life from the bench

Japan scored late goals thanks to substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano, giving Japan an unpredictable 2-1 comeback victory over the German giants. They performed impeccably and ranked up Group E as +400 group sinners and +3,300 2022 FIFA World Cup finalists. The shock result brought the Germans back to Germany’s 1-0 loss to Mexico in the Russia 2018 group stage followed by another defeat at the hands of South Korea, leading to a group-stage exit.

The 2019 AFC Asian Cup runners-up were slow to attack until the second half. Both players introduced new energy on the pitch into their opening fixture. Doan leveled the game in the 75th minute before Asano showcased a stunning first tough control and smashed the winning goal in Neuer’s near post. The sequence caused an explosion of joy coming from the Japan bench and a shocked German squad and crowd. It was a shift that looked in the favor of Japan as they struggled to get some traction for most of the game.

Attacking inefficiency from the DFB Team

Germany’s head coach opted to play Chelsea’s Kai Havertz up front. It was an unexpected move seeing Werder Bremen’s Niclas Fullkrug’s performance during the qualifying campaign. With no player showing urgency to shoot, including Serge Gnarby, İlkay Gündoğan’s shots were the only source of threat of attack. Thomas Muller did well, but his team-oriented mindset meant his goalscoring took a backseat.

Two bizarre substitutions saw Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala out of the game early, leaving Germany without two of their most crucial playmakers. They were replaced by strikers which is Flick’s most controversial decision of the clash. However, the general lack of finishing suggests that the team could use a pure scorer like.

The defeat puts Germany in another awkward position. Now +700 Group E winners, they have to perform at their best against a majestic Spain squad. It’s a tall order considering the recent lapses. They lost the most important game of the group stage and now have to show a different face against Spain as +193 match winners.

Gritty Japanese defense put the Germans under pressure

There was no downtime for the Blue Samurai as they defended Hansi Flick’s squad. They had unmatched energy applying pressure up high to the penalty box. Japan’s fitness level was off the charts, which mainly gave them scoring opportunities. Clean defending, a compact formation, and the overall tactical setup established by Hajime Moriyasu kept them in the game.

As much as German fans may hate to acknowledge it, the man-marking on their forwards was simply unmatched. The Japanese defense down Jamal Musiala and made it impossible for the Bayern Munich striker to shoot. If Japan maintains this level of intensity against a demoralized Costa Rican squad, there’s a good reason they hold the -222 favorites to win their next group-stage match.

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