Japan achieved a historic victory in the Football World Cup on Wednesday, defeating Germany 2-1 in Group E. Even though every metric pointed to Germany being considerably superior, the arrival of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Takumi Minamio had a significant influence on Japan, with Germany committing a critical error by substituting Thomas Muller and Ilkay Gundogan.
Japan staged an astonishing second-half comeback, comparable to Saudi Arabia’s win against Argentina the day before. Germany is stunned after halftime thanks to two goals from Bundesliga players Takumo Asano and Ritsu Doan.
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu used a brilliant tactical shift and a series of changes to defeat the four-time champions Germany. He switched from his regular 4-2-3-1 style to a 3-4-3 formation to produce more scoring threats, and his squad beat Germany for the first time. The Blue Samurai’s switch to a back three allowed them to apply significantly more pressure down the sides while maintaining the vigour they showed in the first half.
Thomas Mueller and Joshua Kimmich moved from side to side in the first half, dragging the Japanese backline with them. Indeed, virtually the entire team appeared to be pulled out in the 31st minute, when Kimmich dropped the ball at the feet of David Raum with a sweep of his right foot. Shuici Gonda’s mistake in the tenacious defensive effort forced Ilkay Gundogan to take a penalty, resulting in the opening goal.
Japan equalised in the 75th minute when Minamino forced Neuer into yet another fantastic save, but Doan, who was also just on, sprinted in to sweep it home. Later in the first half, Japanese goalkeeper Gonda repays the debt with fantastic quick-fire saves of Hoffman, Havertz, and Seg Gnarby twice in a frenzied few seconds of action.
Japan attempted a hopeful forward pass but Schlotterbeck was trapped under it and Asano sped away. The former Arsenal striker took one touch to cover the 60-yard pass, firing the ball above Neuer from a tight angle. He entered the game as a replacement in the 71st minute and scored four minutes into the game.
Even the free kick they received in extra time did not help Germany win the game. Sule’s attempt was stopped on the line by Endo after Kimmick seized the ball for Rudiger’s foul.
Another memorable event occurred during the pre-game group picture session when German players posed with one hand on their mouth to protest FIFA’s prohibition on LGBTG-supporting armbands. The gesture comes following a joint announcement by seven European nations, including Germany, England, and Wales, to abandon plans to wear the ‘OneLove’ armband in response to FIFA threats of disciplinary punishment.
The German squad is again at risk of being eliminated in the first round of the World Cup like they were in the group stage last year. Although there is still much work to be done in escaping a group that includes Spain and Costa Rica, today’s game showed that Japan is more than capable of doing it. Unlike Hansi Flick’s team, they do not appear to be a team that will waste as many simple opportunities as their opponents.