The Blue Samurai of Japan pulled off a huge shock over the four-time World Champions as they came from behind to defeat Hansi Flick’s side 2-1.
One – Sided
In a match which stayed one-sided for the greater part of 90 minutes, the Asian side somehow managed to cause a Saudi-Arabiaesque upset and Hansi Flick and his men would really find it difficult to forgive themselves after they squandered a precious 1-0 lead.
Germany started strongly against, on paper, their weaker opponents. Chance after chance came and it looked likely that the the German side would overrun Japan. German fans were on the edge of their seats as they came closer to goal with each attempt whilst the Asians on the other hand looked short on ideas and energy.
Germany finally found their opener in the 33rd minute as Shuichi Gonda conceded a foul on David Raum, leading to Gundogan slotting home the ensuing penalty. Germany kept firing on all cylinders, except in front of goal, as they continued to attack and press Japan for the majority of the first half.
Japan came into the second half of the match with more drive, purpose and determination as the game started to balance out towards the hour-mark. The Blue Samurai struck a 75th minute equaliser that the Germans didn’t see coming, as substitute, Takumi Minamino’s shot was parried by Manuel Neuer and the rebound put home by Ritsu Doan.
Japan were able to sustain the intensity and tempo for the next couple of minutes as the winner finally came in the 83rd minute with Ko Itakura’s free kick was latched on to by Asano who beat Schlotterback with an ease that will be of concern to Flick, before firing past Neuer at his near post near post.
The Cause of Germany’s Final Third Misery
As the Germans kept on snuffing the life out of their counterparts in the first half and for some part of the second half, they were not clinical in front of goal. No doubt, Hansi Flick’s men were able to get a lot of chances up the pitch and were always around the box for a great part of the match, they somehow managed to send their chances wide.
Musiala, for example, was really efficient out there, playing freely in the midfield and managed to weave his way through blue shirts, but notably skied two chances from just outside the box.
Lack of Co-ordination
Japan’s second goal and ultimately the match winner, came through a lapse of both concentration and co-ordination in the German defence as Ko Itakura’s freekick sailed through, dipping behind the wall formed by Rudiger, Sule and Schlotterback. There was defensive chaos as Rudiger and Sule played an offside trap, while Schlotterback stepped behind Takuma Asano keeping him on. Eventually, the centre-back was no match for the Japanese forward as he strode towards the goal and fired home.
Central Striker Needed
Kai Havertz played the role of a central striker but his performance was lacking as he noticeably played a game lacking in quality compared to Musiala, Gundogan and Gnabry. Havertz is not a natural central forward and Hansi Flick’s men would probably have done better on the pitch if they had a clinical finisher. It’s however difficult to see how the four time World Cup winners can make changes to that set up after seeing Timo Werner miss out on the tournament due to an ankle injury. The possible replacements for Havertz are Karim Adeyemi and Youssoufa Moukoko, both of whom are relatively inexperienced when compared to the Chelsea forward.
This is something Havertz himself has admitted before in terms of not being a real No 9 and maybe the 23-year old would become more efficient for Die Manschaft if he drops back and assumes the role of a No 8 or 10 which of course would mean displacing Thomas Muller.
Germany now have their backs to the wall as they take on Luis Enrique’s Spain in four days time, a must win match if the tide is to be turned around in their favour.
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