The German National Team started their adventure in the 2022 World Cup by facing Japan in the opening match of Group E, this Wednesday afternoon (23/11/2022). This match could be the start of success or vice versa it could destroy their hopes in this tournament.
Given that they will next face Spain in the same group, Germany must not slip up like Argentina were knocked out by Saudi Arabia. If they lose, it means complicating their next step.
The four-time world champions enter Qatar as a team with a new composition since a shock exit in the group stage of the 2018 World Cup prompted them to change coaches and overhaul their squad.
Four years ago was a dark year for Die Mannschaft because apart from being eliminated early from the World Cup they were also knocked out of the European Nations League. Last year their luck was also not so good in Euro 2020 which only reached the last 16.
Now under the new coach Hansi Flick who presented Bayern Germany with six league titles, they hope they are much better than the previous era. Japan is a testament to this premise.
“We have to prepare for a tough fight against Japan,” said team director Oliver Bierhoff as quoted by Reuters. “We have to be focused from the first minute. Then anything is possible.”
One thing that bothers Flick is the uncertainty over whether to start with the tall and mighty striker, Niclas Fuellkrug, or replace Kai Havertz in the number nine role. Fuellkrug himself was absent the last few days because of the flu.
Despite winning nine of their 10 qualifiers, the German hasn’t been clinical enough in attack in recent months. It’s a problem that Flick continues to work on, but it’s also a point Japan can capitalize on.
Japan itself is very familiar with the German type and pattern of play considering that eight players in their squad are looking for their luck in the German domestic league.
Japanese veteran Yuto Nagatomo said the eight members of the German legion were among Eintracht Frankfurt’s Daichi Kamada constantly giving information to his teammates about how to fight against the German team.
“You don’t need to ask around, you get all that information from everywhere,” Nagatomo said as quoted by Reuters.
Japan was certainly trying to expose Germany’s weakness in defense. They also knew Germany was vulnerable to a quick counterattack.
If they can silence Germany then this is Japan’s sure ticket to get through the group phase like they did in 2018 when they reached the last 16.
Predict the first 11 players
Germany (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Thilo Kehrer, Niklas Suele, Antonio Rudiger, David Raum; Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka; Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Leroy Sane; Thomas Mueller.
Japan (4-2-3-1): Shuichi Gonda; Hiroki Sakai, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo; Hidemasa Morita, Gaku Shibasaki; Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Takefusa Kubo; Takumi Minamino.
Hansi Flick will try to push his team to score goals as quickly as possible and vice versa prevent Japan from thinking about attacking them, especially since Japan always presses in high spirits.
For this reason, the tight formation in the front row is a guarantee for Germany to fulfill Flick’s wishes. Here, the position of three midfielders guarding a spearhead becomes a necessity.
For this reason, Flick will install two wingers plus an attacking midfielder to supply the ball to Thomas Mueller, who is likely to be placed as the sole spearhead. Meanwhile, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane are the two supporting wingers for Thomas Mueller who will be supported by young midfielder Jamal Musiala.
Meanwhile, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka became the axis of Germany’s play in the midfield, whose job was to hinder Japan’s maneuvers and at the same time plan attacks from the middle. They are also the first to protect the line of defense.
In the first third of the German area, the duo Niklas Suele – Antonio Rudiger will be the first stronghold before Japan can interfere with seasoned goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. The two centre-backs themselves will be protected from either wing by right-back Thilo Kehrer and left-back David Raum.
Meanwhile, Japan will again ask their veteran, Maya Yoshida to lead the defense with Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu, in order to be the two people who will try to always be in front of goalkeeper Shuici Gonda.
Both sides of the defense will be filled by Hiroki Sakai and Yuto Nagatomo. The two full-backs will also increase their attack build-up when the Japanese attack is forced to rely on the flanks, moreover the presence of Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka can make it difficult for Japan to launch an offensive from the middle.
Similar to Germany, Japan will also place two central midfielders in Hidemasa Morita and Gaku Shibasaki. Meanwhile, attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada will be right in the middle between the two wings Junya Ito and Takefusa Kubo who will work hand in hand with Takumi Minamino to form a trident that can break Germany’s playing concentration.
This battle of the same tactics will make the match between the two countries that used to be allies in the Second World War very fun to watch, especially since Japan always looks attractive and enthusiastic which can push Germany to play an attack that is enjoyable to watch.
Statistics for Both Teams
Germany and Japan have met twice in friendly matches. Germany won 3-0 at Yokohama in 2004, while the latter ended in a 2-2 draw at Leverkusen in the 2006 World Cup warm-up.
This is Germany’s 20th World Cup and the world football giants have won the world title four times, each in 1954 after beating favorites Hungary, in 1974, then 1990 and most recently in Brazil in 2014.
Since 1998 Japan has been in six consecutive editions without ever being absent in the World Cup finals. They have reached the last 16 three times.
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Germany did not usually lift their bags early in the group stages after being beaten by Mexico and South Korea which made them bottom of the group.
Japan lost 3-2 to Belgium in the last 16 of the World Cup in Russia four years ago after leading by two goals, and were knocked out by a stoppage-time goal by Belgium. (Ant/OL-13)