Germany lost the World Cup opening game against Japan 1-2. The fact that the defeat came about was less surprising than the strong first hour. A comment.
After the 2018 World Cup and the 2021 European Championship, the German national team started a major tournament at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar for the third time in a row with a defeat. The 2-1 draw against Japan was ultimately unfortunate, but it wasn’t surprising given the past few months.
Of the previous nine internationals in 2022, Germany won just three. Against Israel, against an Italian B-Elf and despite a poor performance at the World Cup dress rehearsal against the world number 75. Oman. A lack of ideas when owning the ball and negligence when moving backwards were recurring elements in the game of the DFB team. The national team hasn’t aroused enthusiasm at home for a long time.
So it wasn’t the defeat against Japan that was surprising, but rather the strong first hour: Apart from a few simple turnovers, Germany was stable, played well forward and created numerous chances. Up until the break, the DFB team recorded 442 passes, an interim record for a World Cup game (until Spain set a new record a few hours later). The goal shot ratio was 14:1, the percentage of ball possession was 81 percent. The only point of criticism was the conversion of chances, Germany should have led much more than just 1-0 through Ilkay Gündogan’s penalty goal.
After about an hour, however, there was a sudden break: Suddenly only Japan played, which Germany may have deliberately allowed to play. First Manuel Neuer saved in dire need, then Bundesliga legionnaires Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg) and Takuma Asano (VfL Bochum) turned the game around. In the rest of the season, the German national team revealed the face that they have shown so often recently.
DFB team: What you can accuse Hansi Flick of
Flick had called up Süle as a right-back for the first time in his national team career. He ordered everything player Thilo Kehrer to the bench and Schlotterbeck next to Antonio Rüdiger in central defense. Such an experiment in a World Cup game was courageous, but also understandable in view of Kehrer’s blatant weakness in form.
On the other hand, it is less understandable that Flick did not adapt his risky defense tactics to the existing player material despite repeated warning signals. He won the treble with FC Bayern Munich in 2020, but at the time he had a well-rehearsed defense. The current national defenders simply don’t have the quality for such a courageous style of play.
Flick can also be blamed for replacing the strong Ilkay Gündogan, who justified his starting XI instead of Leon Goretzka. When the score was 1-0, the national coach tore up the center of a functioning team. The Japanese national coach Hajime Moriyasu, on the other hand, came in at about the same time as the two goal scorers.
In order to still avoid elimination, Germany absolutely needs a win against Spain on the second day of play, who for their part dismantled Costa Rica 7-0. Thanks to the surprising first hour against Japan, there is at least hope.