Three things we learned from Germany’s shock Japan World Cup defeat

Germany have suffered back-to-back defeats in the World Cup for the first time after losing 2-1 in their opener against Japan. Hansi Flick’s side were in cruise control at half-time, leading 1-0 thanks to İlkay Gündoğan’s 33rd-minute penalty. However, an inspired second-half display from Japan secured a shock victory and puts them in a great position to qualify for the knockout rounds. Here are three things we learned from Germany 1-2 Japan. 

1 | Jamal Musiala is key to any success Germany will have at the World Cup 

One thing we can take from this result is just how important Jamal Musiala is to Germany’s success. He was a focal point in the German attack and looked dangerous every time he was on the ball. At 19-years-old, it feels like Musiala has his nation’s hopes on his shoulders. When Flick subbed him off, the game turned. Germany no longer had someone willing to run at the Japanese backline. Coming in from the wing, Musiala was a constant threat although it may suit the team more if he played a central role. With the return of Leroy Sané for the game against Spain, expect Musiala to take up his usual position. 

2 | Germany continue to have defensive problems

Germany’s main weakness is the defence. Even in the first-half today, the likes of Nico Schlotterbeck and Niklas Süle gave the ball away too many times and allowed Japan to attack. When Japan took the game to Germany in the second-half, the defence looked even more out of sorts. Even the basics weren’t being covered by Germany. Antonio Rüdiger let the ball bounce when a ball was played over the top and Schlotterbeck’s positioning for the first Japan goal was not good enough for this level. Perhaps Flick is wishing he had Mats Hummels in his squad now? 

3 | The timing of substitutions is crucial 

Hansi Flick may have thought the game was pretty much in the bag when he made a double substitution on the 67th minute. Off came Thomas Müller and İlkay Gündoğan and on came Leon Goretzka and Jonas Hofmann. However, this had the opposite effect and gave Japan momentum. In comparison, Japan’s head coach Hajime Moriyasu got it spot on. He brought on Freiburg’s Ritsu Doan and former Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino and it gave Japan more pace and attacking prowess. Just four minutes after coming on, Doan scored the equaliser and was also involved in the second goal just six minutes from time. 

GGFN | Jamie Allen

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