Japan Upsets Germany, 2-1
For the second straight World Cup, five-time champion Germany finds itself in a world of trouble after its opening match, this time falling to Japan, 2-1, after second -half goals by Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano.
Four years ago in Russia, Mexico stunned the Germans, 1-0, in their opening match, and the defending champions failed to escape the group stage for the first time since 1938. Germany will be equally challenged to get to the knockout round this year with games remaining against fellow European powerhouse Spain and defensive stalwart Costa Rica.
Germany controlled the opening 45 minutes and went ahead in the 33rd minute on a penalty kick by Ilkay Gündogan. But Japan, the heavy underdog, changed tactics in the second half, pressing the Germans more in their own end and forcing them into mistakes. Japan finally equalized after applying heavy pressure in the 75th minute with Doan’s goal, and then Asano caught Germany sleeping on a free kick in the 83rd, roofing a shot past helpless goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.
Japan, which never has advanced past the round of 16, featured six starters who play professionally in Germany and did not appear poised to challenge the goal in the first half, instead letting the attack come to then. The second half was a different story.
It this result holds, it will be another shocking result in a World Cup full of them so far.