In the 7th minute, during injury time, an unusual sight was seen at the Khalifa International Stadium during the 2022 World Cup Group E match between Germany vs Japan. In the free kick scheme, the German goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, was seen jumping to head the ball in the Japanese penalty box. Neuer fell, then quickly got up to chase the ball towards the goal.
A few seconds later, Ivan Barton, the referee from El Salvador, blew the long whistle. Neuer had not yet reached his own goal, stopped, and lowered his head, among the Japanese players who were running around, excited. The big surprise happened again, Germany defeated Japan, 1-2.
If I had to compare the surprise that Saudi Arabia made when they beat Argentina, I would definitely choose the surprise that Japan’s victory over Germany looked more extraordinary.
Why is that? There are at least two reasons that made me unable to stop thinking that this inappropriate defeat had happened. First, the statistics of the match in the first round were very unequal. Germany dominated with ball possession up to 80 percent, and secondly, many Japanese players “apprenticed” alias studied and made a living in Germany.
For this second reason, I think it should make it easier for the German coaching team to read the playing style of the Japanese pillar players. In contrast to Argentina, which of course is dark about Saudi Arabia’s playing style. This is what makes me wonder why Germany was able to concede two goals, and in the end it narrowed to a conclusion that there was a fatal mistake made by the German coach, Hans Dieter-Flick. I will scratch 3 (three) of these mistakes.
First, took out the playmaker, Ilkay Gundogan in the 67th minute and was replaced by Leon Goretzka. If Germany wins, I think many will agree that the man of the match will be Ilkay Gundogan. In that match, before being substituted, the Manchester City midfielder acted like the conductor of a symphony concert, controlling where the German ball would go.
Gundogan was adept at distributing the ball to initiate attacks and was skilled at delaying when he recovered the ball and ensured the German players returned to their respective positions.
That’s what makes me wonder why Gundogan was pulled off the field and replaced by Goretzka. The most likely reason is that Hans Flick wants to ensure that the German midfield is stronger and stronger when it has to be physically pushed by Japanese players.
Having won 1-0 through Gundogan’s penalty, Hans Flick thought he only needed to maintain the status quo and peek at the opportunity to add goals. A fatal mistake, because after Gundogan left, Germany’s ball possession was clearly reduced, making it easier for Japan to dictate the match.
Second, carelessness in fending off Japanese counterattacks. From a tactical point of view, before this match, Japan had clearly stated about Germany’s weakness in repelling counterattacks. It was Japanese winger Kaoru Mitoma who mentioned this. “They put a lot of players in front of the attack space, so they have a weakness against counter-attacks, so we are preparing for this,” said Mitoma.
Hans Flick was initially seen preparing for this. Note the movement of defender Nico Schlotterback who seemed limited, when the left full-back Germany, David Raum was instructed to be more offensive. At first it worked, as Raum awarded Germany a penalty when he was stopped by a Japanese player in the area. However, the Schlotterback couldn’t be left alone by Raum too often.
As a result, when Schlotterback lost in a sprint duel to Japanese striker, Asano, during a counter attack, there was not enough back up. I was obviously quite surprised that this ridiculous mistake was happening again, because at the 2018 World Cup, when they were beaten by South Korea, the Asian team, who also relied on counter-attack speed, Hans Flick, was assistant to Joachim Loew, the Germany coach at that time.
Third, German players seem too confident to face Japan. Do you take it lightly? It shouldn’t, but it could happen. The TV viewers hope to catch the incident where striker, Takuma Asano, collided with German defender, Anthony Rudiger, and Rudiger seemed to make fun of Asano who was unable to catch the ball.
Confidence is good, but too much will clearly backfire. Opportunity after opportunity. The young player, Jamie Musiala, even moved like a Neymar, swerving here and there, ravaging the Japanese defense commanded by Maya Yoshida.
Luckily for Japan, Musiala’s finish was still messy, but Germany seems confident of winning because they have a stylish player like Musiala. This is a mistake. Der Panzer as we know, does not rely on one person just like Musiala. Der Panzer is known for playing with high discipline and respect for opponents throughout the game.
When this identity was lost, Germany was ready to be punished by Japan, and this is what happened. This surprising defeat made Germany’s steps quite heavy, because they needed to beat the strong Spanish team and ensure dominance over Costa Rica in the next two matches.
Of course, Japan is in strong self-confidence, because history has proven that if Japan doesn’t lose in the first match, Japan will advance to the next round. Let’s wait.