That was bad.
In the opener of Group E, Germany lost 2-1 to Japan, much akin to the 1-0 loss to Mexico in the previous World Cup. A break from Bayern Munich never sounded that good anyway. Here are our takeaways from the game.
Due credit to Japan
Japan did it. And by it, I mean everything.
The way they managed to hold the team compressed and threaten them, their compactness, clean defending and the overall tactical setup — Japan had the game figured out from the very start. As much as a Germany fan may hate to admit it, the man-marking on Jamal Musiala was simply fantastic. They practically immobilized the youngster, making it impossible for him to shoot.
The goals they scored too were simply brilliant. The ingenious counters and the fantastic finishing made for fantastic attacking efforts by Japan. Germany stood no chance against the Japanese, who just had the entire game under their control, but perhaps this may also have to do with inefficient attacking by Germany too...
On one side there was the Japanese defense shutting down Musiala. On the other side was there an extremely ineffective attack that refused to shoot altogether.
The first half featured... no striker altogether. Hansi Flick opted to play Chelsea FC’s Kai Havertz up top — a completely unexpected move considering Werder Bremen’s Niclas Füllkrug had earlier shown his merit against Oman. With no player willing to shoot, including Serge Gnabry, İlkay Gündoğan’s shots, though ineffectual, were the only source of attack in the final third. Thomas Muller served his role well, but his altruism will have to take a backseat, at least over the course of this World Cup — he needs to actively involve in shooting and scoring.
I am not sure of whether I must laugh at the second half, or cry. Hansi Flick went for the most bizarre substitutions — removing both Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala. Removing the most crucial playmakers on the pitch and replacing them with strikers was, by far, the worst decision Flick has made — on the same level as Thilo Kehrer’s selection.
Despite a large xG of 3.53, the general lack of finishing suggests that Germany could truly use someone like Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Bottom-line: The attack was at its most inefficient it has been in a while. This really begs the question — “Does Germany even have a future at the World Cup?”
Let us face it. This squad is just not it — both in terms of depth and quality. İlkay Gündoğan’s selection to start over Leon Goretzka was startling — the Manchester City midfielder is simply a liability in most cases. At defense, Niklas Süle disappointed, Nico Schlotterbeck was simply awful. Hansi Flick’s substitutions were totally off and so were the tactics today.
Most of us had hopes of seeing Germany perform well, given a slump in most European countries’ form — the likes of France and England looked poor in the Nations League and in earlier international tournaments, but did a complete 180 in the World Cup so far. Germany, on the other hand, looked much better in earlier fixtures. The 1-0 win against Oman was an eye-opener, reminding us of the defensive issues.
None of this was unexpected, was it? These are errors we have known Germany could end up making.
It is up to Flick to make the necessary adjustments at the soonest. Else Germany might not have a future in the international stage for the next few years.
Interested in a more in-depth (and miserable) review of the game and what went wrong? Then why not check out our postgame podcast? We talk about Flick’s selections, underperforming players, tactical issues, and more! Listen to it below or on Spotify.
As always, we appreciate all the support!