Germany became the latest footballing giant to suffer a shock defeat in Qatar 2022, as Japan came from behind to win 2-1.
Second-half goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano canceled out Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty in the first half, securing a result that puts Hansi Flick’s men in serious trouble.
We evaluate the key talking points from an unforgettable encounter.
Making a proclamation
Germany’s players ensured they would make global headlines before the ball was even kicked by performing a powerful pre-match gesture.
Following FIFA’s announcement that any players wearing the OneLove armband, which promotes diversity and inclusion, would be booked, the German starting lineup responded by covering their mouths for the team photo.
The German Football Federation (DFB) explained the situation on Twitter: “Human rights are unalienable. That should be taken for granted, but it isn’t. That is why we value this message so much.”
Germany has a history of grinding out results as four-time world champions, but this current crop appears to be vulnerable at the back.
Some critics’ concerns about a shaky defense before the tournament were confirmed, as the Samurai Blue effortlessly carved out chance after chance in the second period.
The winning goal, which came from a simple ball over the top, was as simple as it gets and will give Flick and his coaches cause for concern.
Japan is underappreciated.
Japan has a 50% record of making it out of their group since qualifying for their first World Cup in 1998, and they now have a great chance of improving that impressive ratio even further.
Most people thought Japan would be nothing more than a stern test for Germany and Spain in Group E, but Hajime Moriyasu’s men now know that a win over Costa Rica on Sunday gives them a great chance of progressing.
This Japan side will be wondering how far their Qatar journey can stretch now that they are comfortable out of possession and tantalizing on the counter-attack.
Stopper that moves
Though Manuel Neuer will be remembered as one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, he did not shine in the Khalifa International Stadium.
Japan’s first goal came from a cross he punched into the path of the goalscorer, and he was beaten at his near post for Asano’s winner, prompting harsh criticism from former England defender Gary Neville.
According to Neville: “The second goal surprised me because Manuel Neuer turned his body to allow the ball to go past him. Neuer is a strong goalkeeper who usually stands tall.”
Keep it clean
For many fans, seeing their country beat Germany against all odds would be cause for immediate celebration — but the Japanese contingent inside the stadium had other priorities.
Blue Samurai fans have a reputation for cleaning up after themselves, and this was no exception in the aftermath of their incredible success.
They’ll be hoping that today’s outcome means they’ll have a few more stadiums to clean before heading home.
Group of death
If Japan continues to advance, one of the group’s two European powerhouses will face an unexpected early exit.
Prior to this afternoon’s match, Spain and Germany were both among the top five betting favorites to win the trophy, making a group-stage exit for either side disastrous.
Suddenly, what appeared to be a tasty Sunday evening meeting between the two could turn out to be a fatal blow for the loser.