Germany are under pressure after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat by Japan in their opening match of the World Cup, head coach Hansi Flick said on Wednesday.
Ilkay Guendogan’s penalty gave Germany the lead in the first half but Japan bounced back in the second half with goals from substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano.
It was Japan’s first-ever win over Germany, with the teams having met twice in international friendlies before Wednesday’s World Cup clash.
The defeat was the third in a row in the opening match of a major championship for Germany after a loss to Mexico at the 2018 World Cup, when they bowed out in the first round as champions – their earliest exit in more than 80 years – and to France at Euro 2020.
“With this defeat and zero points, we are under pressure, no question about it,” Flick told reporters. “We can only blame ourselves. It’s a great disappointment.
“We were on the right path in the first half, we had 78% possession and were ahead 1-0. Then we had good chances in the second half that we didn’t take advantage of.
“Japan were simply more efficient today. We made mistakes that we should never commit especially in a World Cup and those are the things that we need to improve on.”
Germany World Cup 2022 squad
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp
Defenders: Armel Bella-Kotchap, Matthias Ginter, Christian Gunter, Thilo Kehrer, Lukas Klostermann, David Raum, Antonio Rudiger, Nico Schlotterbeck, Niklas Sule
Midfielders: Julian Brandt, Niklas Füllkrug, Leon Goretzka, Mario Götze, Ilkay Gundogan, Jonas Hofmann, Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala
Forwards: Karim Adeyemi, Serge Gnabry, Kai Havertz, Youssoufa Moukoko, Thomas Müller, Leroy Sané
Who are the star names in the squad?
Youssoufa Moukoko broke Cameroonian hearts when the gifted teenager plumped for a spot on the German U16s team over the country where he spent the first ten years of his life, but Germany have certainly rewarded what might have been a challenging decision for Moukoko.
To say Moukoko is a wunderkind almost too easy – last year, on his debut, he became the youngest-ever scorer for the Germany U21 team, and only fourteen months later, he graduates to the senior team. Dortmund rely heavily on him, with Moukoko making 22 appearances already this season in all competitions, which have yielded ten goal contributions.
The opening ceremony fell on Moukoko’s 18th birthday – becoming one of the competition’s youngest-ever goalscorers would make a fitting gift.
What has Germany’s form been like?
Hansi Flick’s team will want to make up for their humiliating group-stage exit at Russia 2018 when the 2022 World Cup in Qatar comes around.
Die Mannschaft topped their qualifying group with nine wins out of 10 and became the first team to book their spot through the qualification process. Their only defeat came against North Macedonia which was the first time they had lost in the qualifiers since 2001. The Fifa world rankings have them in 11th, sandwiched between Denmark and Croatia.
Flick is competing in his first major tournament as Germany head coach. The former Bayern Munich manager assisted his predecessor Joachim Löw for eight years between 2006 and 2014.
After drawing 3-3 with England at Wembley Stadium in the Nations League, Germany beat Oman 1-0 in their final game before the World Cup.
Off the pitch
Germany were one of seven nations who were told they would face sporting sanctions from Fifa if their captains wore the ‘OneLove’ armband during the tournament in Qatar.
Ahead of their group match against Japan, the players warmed up with rainbow stripes down the shoulders of their shirts, with some – namely captain Neuer, Gnabry and Gundogan – all wearing boots adorned with rainbow colours.
Before kick-off, the German team then held their hands over their mouths in an apparent reference to being gagged from speaking out.
Despite Neuer sticking to the official Fifa armband for the Group E clash, which was checked by the assistant referee, the country’s Interior Minister was seen defiantly wearing the OneLove band in the crowd as she stood alongside the president of the German Football Association.
What are Germany’s fixtures?
What is Germany’s World Cup record?
Germany are one of the most successful teams at the World Cup. They have won the tournament four times (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014) and have appeared in a total of eight finals.
At the Russia World Cup in 2018 it was a shock that Germany failed to advance past the group stage. They crashed out after losing 2-0 to South Korea leaving them bottom of Group F.
Argentina | Australia | Belgium | Brazil | Cameroon | Canada | Costa Rica | Croatia | Denmark | Ecuador | England | France | Germany | Ghana | Iran | Japan | Mexico | Morocco | Netherlands | Poland | Portugal | Qatar | Saudi Arabia | Senegal | Serbia | South Korea | Spain | Switzerland | Tunisia | Uruguay | USA | Wales
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Germany are currently 25/1 to win the 2022 World Cup.