World Cup Daily Daily Daily 4

Japan’s Ritsu Doan celebrates after scoring his team’s opening goal during the World Cup Group E soccer match between Germany and Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Image: AP

Game of the day: Japan 2 – Germany 1

While some would like to chalk it up to an upset on the scale of Saudi Arabia’s uplifting of Argentina yesterday, it comes nowhere close for several reasons. One, Germany is not Argentina, and two, it wasn’t a fist pump. Japan took the picture of many people (myself included) into the tournament to be a bit of a loser, and at worst they only deserved a draw based on their second-half performance.

The first half was a little too passive from Samurai Blue and Jamal Musiala was a terror from the left side of the attack, consistently going through traffic. Germany struggled to break past Wataru Endo’s midfield wall, so they went over his head to get their goal. They went from defender to defense as Niklas Sule was able to pick out David Raum, who completely lost every Japanese marker and was alone in the box, forcing Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda to completely lose his marbles and foul him twice. penalty.

But the thing about Germany is that we still don’t know who can score consistently from open play, and the rest of the Bundesliga doesn’t know how good some of the squad are without Bayern Munich. Kai Havertz is not number one. 9 and Thomas Müller may be too old to play a hole of this level. Havertz should probably play where Müller is.

In the second half, Germany still had chances to ice it but didn’t capitalize on it, which is what happens when you don’t have someone consistently finding the net. But when Japan introduced Takuma Asano and Kaoru Mitoma in the 57th minute, their attack picked up speed. Japan hit Germany the way everyone thought it would, which was quick, direct and off the turnover. These became more common as Müller and Kimmich began to tire. No one attacks as fast as Japan.

Another problem for Germany is that their defense can be on the slow side. Asano fell asleep on the game-winning long ball, keeping Asano onside as Sule, Rudiger and Schlotterbeck stepped up. But both were slow to react, a problem Rudiger has had for some time and why Chelsea had to keep playing a back three when he was there. They never caught Asano, who bravely finished from a tight angle for the Landon Donovan Special.

Germany has serious problems now. It’s hard to judge how good Spain really are thanks to Costa Rica not being on full display, but they’re really good at worst. Lose again and their tournament is over. Even a draw would leave them with a lot to look forward to if Japan beat Costa Rica, which looks as unlikely as filling in your name on the SAT. Germany can play more on the counter against a Spanish team that will dominate the ball and perhaps that suits them better, especially if they deploy one of the speedy Dortmund players in Karim Adeyemi or Yussoufa Moukoko, or if they can get Leroy Sane. suitable But someone will have to finish it, and who that person is remains a mystery.

Other results: Croatia 0-0 Morocco

Is it all about old age? Croatia was watching it a lot. While they had the majority of the ball, they never looked threatening as they neither had the ability nor the gas to stretch the Moroccan defense in any way. Both teams combined for four shots on goal and 0-0 was the most likely result from around the 15th minute. It was each part of the two bodies in the sun.

Spain 147-0 Costa Rica

You don’t have to worry about not having a real striker when the opponent doesn’t apply any pressure. It was unclear what Costa Rica was trying to do, not pressurize the Spanish defense, but also not pressurize the midfield. This meant that Gavi and Pedri could simply turn and run and link up with Olmo, Asensio and Torres. If these five can dance effortlessly around the 18-yard box, they will improve their chances. And goals. It was full batting practice.

Is Spain good? Yes. Are they that good? It’s hard to say, but we’ll find out in a hurry.

Belgium 1:0 Canada

It’s a cruel sport because Canada got the job and got what they deserved? It can also be a strange sport.

Canada was certainly better in the first half and by a margin. They posted a 2.14 xG in the first 45 alone, an indication of how many shots they were able to get. Belgium have been done a huge favor by Roberto Martinez because he’s an idiot for wanting to deploy Marcelo Bielsa as a right winger in a 3-3-1-3? At least I think so?

Regardless, Axel Witsel was all alone in Belgium’s midfield, meaning that the thin-boned Belgian defense had no access to the Canadian press. Giveaways and turnovers abounded as Witsel was completely surrounded and Tielemans lost in the woods 50 yards away. He also included Eden Hazard in the starting line-up despite only playing around 12 minutes for Madrid this year, and despite a few flashes, Hazard looked him over.

But the thing is, you have to calculate it. Canada did not. They got an early penalty. Alphonso Davies served Thibaut Courtois more like he was taking him round rather than trying to score him. They put just three shots on frame the entire game. And they were lucky that Kevin De Bruyne’s radar was jammed all game (LONESTAR!!) as he completely missed a couple of killer passes on the break that we’re used to him doing every time. In fact, it could have been worse.

This should have been better. There should have been a second penalty in Canada, but we will make it. But fair play to Martinez because after about half an hour he moved Tielemans back into midfield with Witsel and then really coasted the point with Amadou Onana on the break. Canada had just two shots from the 32nd minute to halftime, compared to 12 earlier. With Belgium switching to a double loop, the mistakes Canada feasted on dried up as there were more options to run through the press.

Canada can take heart from the performance, but they will need to find someone with a compass in the opposition box.

Purpose of the day: Spain certainly provided a buffet, but I have to go with Gavin’s fifth goal for Spain.c. This finish is so cheeky and smooth and so reassuring that I feel like I have to give it to my lover without a fight:

Did VAR break something? Of course! Canada may feel completely unfair because it should have been a second penalty 10 minutes after the first. Eden Hazard, looking rusty like someone who hasn’t played regularly in years, deliberately plays the ball back to Tajon Buchanan in the Belgium box, which puts Buchanan on the field. He was completely cleared by Jan Vertonghen, but the foul was wrongly disallowed as the assistant signaled for offside. Johnny Sikazwe Vertonghen was never investigated nor asked to because he allegedly touched the ball which I couldn’t find with a microscope.

Sikazwe It is the same referee who blew the final whistle twice during the AFCON, although it was later revealed that he was suffering from heat stroke. But that’s what having two eyes is supposed to solve. It was obvious and never looked at.

Did Qatar screw something up? Apparently, nothing but business as usual.

Did Alexi Lalas say something stupid? Not today, although his open jealousy of Clint Dempsey and Stu Holden’s shared handshakes from when they were together in the national team was kind of charming.