And in the end the Germans win? Not in Qatar anyway. Germany squandered a series of opportunities and eventually choked on a deadly final offensive by Japan.

Even 77 percent of possession was not enough. “We played a good match for a long time, but of course you have to convert your chances into goals”, Thomas Müller did not get much further than a cliché. “It’s laughable that we’re standing here empty-handed.”

That increases the pressure towards Sunday, when Spain waits. “We just have to win that match. We wanted to take the pressure off with a win, but now we are in trouble.”

“We made it too easy for Japan,” said goalscorer Ilkay Gundogan. “Certainly that second goal. I don’t know if there has ever been an easier goal at a World Cup.”

“We dominated and had countless chances, but we conceded goals far too easily. There was too little confidence and enthusiasm in possession.”

“We did it to ourselves,” goalkeeper Manuel Neuer sighed. “Japan started to believe they could pick something up. And we thought we could pull it off. What a disappointment…”

“This is hugely disappointing,” repeated coach Hansi Flick at German broadcaster ARD.

“We ended up leading 1-0, which was more than deserved. In terms of efficiency, Japan clearly beat us today.”

“Such individual mistakes simply cannot happen. We have to support the players now. We have two more matches.”

At the 2018 World Cup, the Germans fell in the group stage. Flick does not want to make a comparison with that disappointing tournament. “I was not there in 2018. I don’t care.”

The clash with Spain awaits on Sunday. “We have the qualities to beat Spain.”

“We wanted to open aggressively and dominate”, the Japanese national coach surprised in his analysis, “but Germany was stronger, so we had to defend strongly and seize our opportunities.”

That also happened thanks to two substitutes who play football in Germany. “It’s a surprise to us too, yes.”

“But Asian football is on the rise, also thanks to the development of our players in the German leagues. This is a historic victory.”

Source: Sporza

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Peggy McColl

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