Morocco, Croatia battle to tense draw in Group F opener

Japan pulled off a stunning upset victory against Germany as two late goals secured a first-ever win for the Samurai Blue against the world powerhouse.

WATCH FULL MATCH REPLAY

For Germany, they have now lost the opening game of the group stage for two World Cup tournaments in a row and in 2018 that led to them not making the knockout rounds.

Hansi Flick’s side took the lead through Ilkay Gundogan’s first half penalty kick and had chances to double their lead but Japan hung in there and their substitutes had a huge impact as both Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano (who both play in Germany) scored to stun Germany .

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This was the first time since 1978 that Germany lost a World Cup game in which they were leading at half time, while Japan have got their Group E campaign off to a flier.

Next up Germany faces Spain in what is now a huge clash, while Japan faces Costa Rica.


Substitutes star as Samurai Blue pull off stunning comeback

Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu brought on Mitoma, Doan, Minamino, Asano and Tomiyasu and they had an incredible impact on the game. It was like Japan knew if they could keep the game close, bringing those players off the bench would propel them to have a chance of getting something. Goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda made up for his first half mistake to give away a penalty as he made several big stops in the second half and Germany’s slack finishing gave Japan the chance to get back into this game. They made most of Germany’s defensive errors and pressed so high early on and then late on and Germany just couldn’t handle the pressure Japan put on them. This is one of the biggest victories in Japan’s World Cup history, if not the biggest. And their coach and rampant midfielders and attackers should take huge credit for never giving up.


Stars of the show

Jamal Musiala: Silky on the ball, set up chances galore and one mazy run saw him beat five players but he blasted over. What a talent the 19-year-old is.

Wataru Endo: Brilliant in midfield and snapped into challenges to knock Gundogan and Kimmich out of their stride.


How to watch Germany vs Japan live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 8am ET, Wednesday Nov. 23
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
TV channels in Spanish: Telemundo
Streaming en Español: Peacock (all 64 matches)


Key storylines, players to watch closely

Which Germany shows for the tournament, the dynamic but open one that won 5-2 over Italy and drew England 3-3? Or will it be the team that drew four-straight Nations League games by a 1-1 score line? Either way, Germany’s only clean sheets in 2022 came against Israel and Oman.

Japan’s friendly loss to Canada can be considered a blip but Germany is obviously a step up in class. Can the Samurai Blue get appropriate center forward play from a crew of four who’ve scored 11 goals in a combined 60 caps. Takuma Asano, 28, has seven of those goals and 37 of those caps, but look out for Shuto Machino. The 23-year-old scored three times in his first four caps, nabbing two against Hong Kong and another against South Korea? Could he be one of the breakout players of this tournament? He’s a wild card bet along teammates Takefuso Kubo, Karou Mitoma, and Ritsu Doan.


Germany quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 11
World Cup titles: 4 (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
World Cup appearances: 20
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from UEFA (1st place)
Coach: Hansi Flick
Key players: Manuel Neuer, Antonio Rudiger, Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka

Japan quick facts

Current FIFA world ranking: 24
World Cup titles: 0
World Cup appearances: 7
How they qualified: Qualified automatically from AFC
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Key players: Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada

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