Japan stunned four-time World Cup winners Germany at the Khalifa International Stadium on Wednesday evening as they pulled off a 2-1 second-half upset in their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 opening match.
Germany got the game underway, launching the ball long, before Daichi Kamada tackled Ilkay Gundogan in the midfield, tearing up the pitch on the counter-attack. The side made their way into the German box, with the ball finding Daizen Maeda, who flicked it into the bottom left from six yards out before being flagged for offside, letting the Germans off the hook.
20 minutes in, Germany began to make their presence known further up the pitch, as Serge Gnabry sent a long ball into the Japan box, however there was nobody to receive it.
David Raum edged towards the penalty box ten minutes later, and Shuichi Gonda made contact, bringing him down. Referee Ivan Cisneros pointed to the spot and Gundogan stepped up, sending Gonda to the right as he slotted the ball left of centre. Japan tried to respond quickly, with Junya Ito winning a corner on the right. Germany cleared the ball, but Japan’s Kubo retorted, tearing down the right flank, but his shot was easily intercepted.
The second half began and Japan quickly made a double substitution, instantly becoming more dangerous. Then, in the 74th minute, Takumi Minamino came on and got stuck in, flying straight down the left flank to send a cross in to Ritsu Doan, who slammed home from six yards, putting his side back on equal footing.
The Germans are clearly rattled by this, and go on to leave too much space for a re-energised Japan side. As a result, less than ten minutes later, Japan’s Takuma Asano fired past Manuel Neuer to double their lead.
Until 2018, Germany hadn’t exited the World Cup during the group stages since 1938. However, currently sitting at the bottom of Group E with Spain up next, the side are in serious danger of two humiliations in a row. Their place in the competition may now rest on the result of Sunday’s game against Spain - who, incidentally, beat them 6-0 at their last meeting two years ago.