Germany was on the receiving end of another shock in the World Cup. After losing to Mexico and South Korea in 2018, Germany started off poor once again, losing 2-1 to Japan. Ilkay Gündogan opened the scoring with a penalty and just before half-time, Kai Havertz had a goal ruled out for offside. Germany continued to lead thanks to saves from Manuel Neuer before two Bundesliga players in Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano both came off the bench to score and win the game for Japan.
Thomas Müller, who played 67 minutes, reacted to the defeat: “I feel we played well over long stretches, but in football, you have to convert the superiority into goals. The efficiency wasn’t there. It’s ridiculous to start with a defeat. But when you see the way we conceded goals, you can say it wasn’t an underserved loss.”
Müller also added on how the team will react to the loss today: “We have to process this now. Accepting defeat is never easy. But we have to remain objective – the defeat is easy to analyse in football terms, but difficult to grasp emotionally. If you’re not efficient in football, you won’t win anything.”
The attacking-midfielder was rather ineffective in the game as it was his first game since Bayern Munich beat Barcelona 3-0 in October.
If Germany want any hope of qualifying they must beat Spain in their next game on Sunday and it would mean most of the cards are in their hands when they face Costa Rica in the final group game. If not, Germany will be facing another early exit despite having a significantly better squad compared to four years ago.
GGFN | Jack Meenan