Germany beat Costa Rica but have been knocked out at the group stages for a second FIFA Men’s World Cup in a row.
Hansi Flick’s side poured in the goals late, but after their opening-day defeat it was too little, too late. Japan improbably beat a Spanish side that could not have depended on Germany’s result in order to advance.
Still, it must be said that this result is thoroughly deserved for the Germans. Losing to Japan took it out of their hands, and for stretches of the match today, it looked like they’d lose to Costa Rica, too. For a brief time, Group E looked like it would produce the unimaginable — Spain and Germany both out at the group stages.
Germany had their chances to break the game open early, but the post denied Jamal Musiala more than once. Defensive liabilities reared their head again as they conceded two goals in the second half.
Chelsea FC’s Kai Havertz proved to be a wonderful substitute, and Bayern Munich’s Leroy Sané got a chance to flash his magic as the Germans fought hard to secure their comeback. One wonders what might have happened had the Germans grabbed that second goal instead of conceding...but the goal differential against Spain would have been a lot to overcome.
For Hansi Flick and Germany, this means real soul-searching ahead of the 2024 EURO, which Germany will host.
But this day belongs completely to Japan. A joyous Japanese side have left Spain stunned and have taken the world by storm — topping this year’s Group of Death. Their reward? Landing on the side of the bracket that will likely give them a date with Brazil soon enough, if they survive.
For Spain? A date with Morocco and Bayern Munich’s Noussair Mazraoui await. France and England also sit on Spain’s side of the bracket — along with Bayern-to-FC Barcelona transfer Robert Lewandowski’s Poland and a Sadio Mané-less Senegal.
It’s been a difficult tournament and there will be time for a post-mortem later. For now, let’s applaud a German side that did everything they could — they just didn’t know they were secondary characters in Japan’s Cinderella story.
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.
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