Four-time world champions Germany suffered an opening day defeat at the World Cup in successive tournaments following today’s loss against Japan. In what was already billed as a tough opener for Die Mannschaft, Hansi Flick’s side will have it all to do when they face Spain on Sunday.
Germany suffered an early scare after Daizen Maeda had the ball in the net, only for it to be ruled out for offside. Ilkay Gündogan then put his side in the lead from the spot after 33 minutes. Joshua Kimmich clipped a delightful ball into David Raum, who was brought down by Shūichi Gonda. Gündogan dispatched the penalty.
Japan continued to probe and were the better team in the second-half. Moments after Serge Gnabry had a chance to give Germany a 2-0 lead, Japan substitutes Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Ritsu Doan all combined to equalise for the Samurai Blue. They then continued to push for a winner and that came with seven minutes remaining. Bochum’s Takuma Asano fired the ball past Manuel Neuer, who had no help from his defence.
How Germany fared:
Manuel Neuer, 6 – The Bayern Munich stopper had little to do but was forced into an excellent save after 73 minutes to deny Junya Ito. Proof he still has it at 36. He made another excellent save to deny Kaoru Mitoma moments later but was unable to prevent the ball from finding Ritsu Doan. He was then beaten at his near post, Takuma Asano firing his shot into the roof of the net.
Niklas Süle, 3 – Many German outlets suggested that West Ham’s Thilo Kehrer would start at right-back but Hansi Flick opted for Süle, who has played the same position at Borussia Dortmund for much of the season. At fault for Japan’s winner, he could see along the defensive line but dropped two metres deeper and played Asano onside.
Antonio Rüdiger, 5
Nico Schlotterbeck, 4 – Like Süle, at fault for Japan’s second goal. On occasion, the 22-year-old is excellent in one-on-one duels but lost his battle against Asano. Never looked comfortable but a favourite for Flick, who prefers to play a left-footed central-defender rather than two right-footed defenders.
David Raum, 6 – Germany always looked for the overload and the RB Leipzig left-back was always given space. Won the penalty but although he’s usually consistent in the final third, his crosses lacked accuracy today.
Joshua Kimmich, 5
Ilkay Gündogan, 6 – Started ahead of Leon Goretzka and was caught on the ball inside eight minutes, pressed by three Japanese players. As a result, Maeda had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for offside. Composed himself following his early error and scored from the spot – always looked to progress the ball and keep it moving.
Serge Gnabry, 6
Thomas Müller, 5
Jamal Musiala, 7 – Germany’s best player in the final third. Silky footwork, almost scored the goal of the tournament so far after waltzing his way past five Japan players. If Die Mannschaft are to advance, it will largely be down to the creativity of Musiala, who became Germany’s youngest player at the World Cup since 1958.
Kai Havertz, 4 – Since the retirement of Miroslav Klose in 2014, Germany have lacked a real No. 9. They’ve had some greats over the years and as has been the case, they showed today that they lack a presence in the box. Flick has a big call regarding who he starts against Spain.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder