Final Standings Germany vs Japan: Another massive upset at the World Cup as Samurai Blue stunned the Germans with late goals

In their second consecutive World Cup, Germany got off to a disastrous start to the season, losing a first-half lead and losing 2-1 to Spain. Suddenly, the 2014 champions are faced with the very realistic prospect of a second consecutive Group Stage elimination, a self-inflicted crisis that has seen both disastrous defensive work and the excellence of match-winner Takuma Asano.

All readings would suggest that Germany were a vastly superior side in the 75 minutes before Ritsu Doan equalized Japan again, but the feeling was of a lavish team, with killer instincts on one side and the serenity was missing. Japan showed both in abundance and while there is still work to be done to escape a group that includes Spain and Costa Rica, they are superbly positioned to do so. Unlike Hansi Flick’s team, they don’t look like a team that could miss anywhere near as many easy chances away as their opponents.

Initially, Japan saw precious little of the ball in the first half, but they showed an impressive flair for chasing possession. Daizen Maeda might have steered this game in a completely different direction in the seventh minute, but after fine work from the Japanese midfield to pop the pocket of a sluggish Ilkay Gundogan, the Celtic striker made his move too early to overtake Manuel Neuer .

Those half-openings got in Japan’s way more than once in the early exchanges, as did the ever-expanding magic of Germany’s possession. Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich drifted from flank to flank, dragging the Japanese back line with them. In fact, in the 31st minute almost the entire team seemed to have gone wide to the right, with a flick of his right shoe Kimmich dropped the ball on David Raum’s feet. Shuici Gonda clipped them shortly after, the only major error in a determined defensive display from this team, and Gundogan made him pay from the penalty spot, although the Japanese keeper would do anything that could be asked of him to pay him back when the second came Debt with a wonderful double save by Serge Gnabry.

Kai Havertz could have ended the game before the break, but let himself be pushed aside by a cross from Jamal Musiala. That waste gave Japan head coach Hajime Moriyasu a chance to change the game. He grabbed it. The move to a back three allowed the Blue Samurai to put far more pressure on the flanks while retaining the energy they showed in the first half. Shortly after Manuel Neuer’s stunning save against the dangerous Yunya Ito failed, Hiroki Sakai overplaying the rebound, Germany captain Takumi Minamino’s cross could only lead from the certainty of an Asano goal to Doan, who delivered it instead.

Japan’s winner started in a sober manner, something of an empty ball into the channel that turned into a highly effective pass thanks to Niklas Sule standing two meters behind his teammates and playing Asano on the side. There was still work to be done for the former Arsenal forward, killing a pass from over 60 yards with one touch and passing the ball over Neuer from a tight angle.

Leon Goretzka was just inches off the mark in seven minutes of added time, but Germany looked just as good as if they were going to give Japan a third goal, which right-back Sule, who was extremely awkward with the ball on foot, repurposed. In a desperate last throw, the captain and goalkeeper came up with a barrage of set pieces in the closing seconds but Gonda held on, more than well done.


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