Jersey Swap: Keylor Navas
Navas found himself with a decent amount of work to do, making multiple saves from the starting minute. For a guy that found himself beaten four times, he was truly Costa Rica’s best player (bar Tejeda, who was fantastic!).
Der Kaiser: Joshua Kimmich
Much to the frustration of fans, Hansi Flick decided to start Joshua Kimmich at right-back this game. It was obvious that Kimmich wasn’t a fan of playing the position and most thought that having him at midfield was more crucial than at full-back.
However, Kimmich was crucial for the German attack this game. He was all over the pitch, exhibiting his explosive, creative game. Time and again, Kimmich reminds us that though he is not very attacking-minded, while at defensive midfield, when at right-back he truly shines with powerful attacking attributes. In a line of poor defense with players individually contributing to every conceded goal, Joshua Kimmich was a glimmer of hope for Germany. Creating big chances and defending flawlessly, alike, only Kimmich can do it this well.
Fußballgott: İlkay Gündoğan
Though Gündoğan only played half the game, it was obvious his impact in that period. He kept things clean at midfield. It is always his passing game that I admire the most — slick, accurate and short passes have always been his style. It was a very quiet day at midfield either way but Gundi did a good job while he was there.
Surprisingly though, several of his Manchester City teammates are returning home early (like himself!).
Der Bomber: Jamal Musiala
Jamal Musiala is a player Germany simply do not deserve.
Among his innumerous qualities, Musiala is infamous for his dribbling and the numbers agree — the 19-year-old completed thirteen dribbles. That records the second-most dribbles in a single World Cup game since 1986!
There is honestly nothing to complain about him either, his finishing could certainly use some work but for a player globally acknowledged as the next generation Messi, Musiala might just show the Argentine legend how it is done when they meet in the Champions League next year!
Meister of the Match: I’m sorry, no.
Let’s face facts here. We won, yes. But at what cost?
Do I give the award to Serge Gnabry for his immense goal-contributions from today? Or do I give it to Thomas Muller, for having done his best despite an awful set of choices by coach Hansi Flick? Or, it could be Niclas Füllkrug, who deserves better than this team. Then there’s Kai Havertz with the brace.
None of these matter.
End of the day the matter remains, we were complacent, practically depending on an (impending) Spain victory, only for Japan to upset things. It matters that Hansi Flick made poor choices time and again — from the point of choosing the 26-man-squad to the starting XI, the substitutions and the tactics, boy, was a lot of it wrong.
Individual brilliance may have saved the day for Germany, but expect nothing otherwise — this complacent and hapless generation needs a complete overhaul before they can even think of stepping anywhere near a big tournament.
And in case you haven’t listened to it yet, here’s a special edition postgame + weekend warm up podcast to get you ready for the weekend! We look at Germany’s shortcomings, Hansi Flick’s approach, Japan’s wonderful run...and close out with some classical music talk! Listen below or on Spotify.
As always, we appreciate all your support!