Japan scored an overwhelming victory over Germany on the fourth day of the World Cup, in a surprise that almost matched Saudi Arabia’s sensational victory over favourites Argentina on the third day of the tournament.
Wednesday’s game ended with a 2-1 win for Japan against the powerful Germans, a country whose teams won the World Cup a whopping four times.
Many are probably wondering what other phenomenal surprises the 2022 World Cup in Qatar will bring as the games approach the final.
In the other games on the fourth day, Spain gave Costa Rica a lesson in world-class soccer, beating “Los Ticos” 7-0, while Morocco and Croatia ended their game without a goal in what some saw as lackluster, and Belgium won against Canada in a thrilling sporting encounter.
Here’s a quick guide that summarizes everything you need to know about the fourth day — Wednesday, November 23, 2022 — of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Morocco vs Croatia
Morocco and Croatia kicked off the highly anticipated game at 1:00 PM local time (10:00 GMT) at Al Bayt Stadium, which quickly proved to be an uneventful, albeit intense, game.
Croatia had a frustrating start and their chances of scoring were low as the Atlas Lions kept the Croats in check for most of the game but were then unable to prevail in the goalless draw on Wednesday.
Croatia’s best moments were predictably dependent on Luka Modric, who had a free hand and floated effortlessly up and down the pitch. The traditional roles of soccer in midfield did not seem to apply to the Croatian captain.
Morocco was inspired by Hakim Ziyech, as the Chelsea winger was their most dangerous attacker in the early stages. Despite his hard work, the end product wasn’t goals.
The game was low on action, but it was intense at least as both sides fought for midfield dominance, much to the delight of Atlas Lions fans. The Moroccan fans were in a good mood after the game despite the draw.
“I really wanted to win,” 42-year-old Morocco fan Mohammaed El Yamiq from Mohammadiya near Casablanca told CNN Breaking News.
“It was a very boring game… but that will be enough for now. It’s a good booster for us when we play with others in the group,” he said.
After the game, Kroat Modric said it was “a tough game, especially in the first 15 minutes,” adding that his team had done better in the second half.
Croatia will now focus on the game against Canada on Sunday when Morocco meets Belgium.
Germany versus Japan
Germany versus Japan began at 4 PM (13:00 GMT) at Khalifa International Stadium, and few could have expected what would unfold soon.
Japan caused the second earthquake at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar when it came from behind and scored an overwhelming 2-1 victory over the Germans.
Following Argentina’s shocking 1-2 loss to Saudi Arabia on Tuesday after leading by one goal, Germany took the lead in the first half following a penalty from Ilkay Gundogan.
Some German chances then remained unfulfilled and a poor defense helped the Japanese regain their composure and come back well.
One goal behind, the Japanese seemed to change their tactics and became more aggressive in the German half. They took the initiative when the Germans tried to retain their leadership.
But it was Ritsu Doan in the 75th minute and Takuma Asano in the 83rd minute whose goals gave Japan the biggest World Cup win so far.
“It’s a big disappointment and frustrating,” said German captain Manuel Neuer after the ARD game. “We made the opponent strong. The last wish made the difference. Japan thought they could win while we thought we could keep the lead,” he said.
German coach Hansi Flick said: “It is brutally disappointing. We’re annoyed that we lost the game because we had the chances. We must look ahead. We have a chance to score six points.”
Japanese Maya Yoshida told beIN Sports: “That’s the beauty of soccer, sometimes it happens! Now the limelight is on our side, it’s time to dance.”
Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu said: “We knew we needed to defend better. That’s why I’ve changed the system. The players knew immediately what I meant and how they should react.”
“We celebrated a great win, but it continues. We will also be preparing for the next game,” said Moriyasu, looking ahead to Sunday’s game against Costa Rica.
With the defeat, Germany is now likely to fear an early exit from the tournament.
“We made history today! “Japanese fan Kosuke told CNN Breaking News as other supporters left Khalifa International Stadium and waved flags.
Kosuke said he didn’t expect his team to beat Germany, but now Samurai Blue was unstoppable.
“They’re going to lose their heads at home and maybe they’ll get a day off tomorrow, just like Saudi Arabia,” Kosuke said with a grin on his face.
Spain vs Costa Rica
The Spaniards and Costa Ricans started their game at 19:00 (16:00 GMT) at Al Thumama Stadium and it was a game with further premieres for the World Cup.
Since Pelé 1958, no one as young as Spaniard Gavi has scored a goal at the World Cup. The 18-year-old midfielder led the pack on Wednesday when Spain claimed the biggest World Cup win in its history and gave Costa Rica 7-0 trashing.
Since Gavi and 19-year-old Pedri started in the game, Spain also became the first European nation with two teenagers on the World Cup line-up in 60 years
“I could never have imagined it,” said Gavi, who was named the most valuable player in the game. “I know I’m the youngest on the team and I respect everyone, but it’s different on the field and I’m doing my best,” he said.
Spain’s young side avoided any chance of surprise as Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres each scored one goal in the first half. Torres, Gavi, Carlos Soler and Álvaro Morata contributed to the results in the second half.
Olmo’s goal was the 100th World Cup goal for Spain, which became the sixth nation in the tournament’s history to score more than 100 goals. According to game statistics from the Opta Sports Analytics platform, it was also the first time that Spain scored seven goals in a World Cup game and the first time that a team completed 1,000 passes in a 90-minute match of the tournament.
Costa Rica looked overwhelmed throughout the game and failed to make even a single goal attempt. The team came to Qatar hoping to repeat their surprise run to the 2014 quarter-finals in Brazil and avoid repeating their winless appearance at the World Cup in Russia four years ago.
“We didn’t keep possession of the ball the way we should have,” Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suárez said after the game. “We couldn’t complete three or four passes.”
Only five countries scored more goals in the World Cup than Spain — Brazil, Germany, Argentina, Italy and France.
Belgium vs Canada
The Belgian and Canadian teams faced off at 10 pm (19:00 GMT) at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, where Canada beat Belgium on the pitch but did not win the game.
Canada lost 1-0 to the Belgian team, which had weathered a fierce storm of Canadian soccer skills to score a goal and win the game.
Against the second-placed team in the world, Canada was unlucky to come away empty-handed. Belgium only managed nine shots on goal, while Canada had 21.
Canada was unable to take advantage of several scoring opportunities, but was still able to hold its own against its powerful opponents by preventing them from getting involved in the game.
Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois saved a penalty at the start of the first half and teammate Michy Batshuayi scored halftime to give Belgium the win.
“They’ve shown that they belong here tonight,” Canada manager John Herdman said of his team’s performance after the game.
“At a performance like this, I said to the players, ‘We’re just moving on to the next task. ‘I’m proud of what they’ve done, really proud. They’ve proven that they can play here,” he said.
With their victory, Belgium now leads Group F with 3 points.
Herdman said he expected Canada’s performance against the Belgians to earn his team a bit more respect among future opponents.
“The teams will know what we’re doing and how we’re doing business. The effort was unreal. If we can be more reckless when it comes to this attack, we’ll get something out of these games. The group is very open,” he said.
Belgian coach Roberto Martinez said after the game that the team was second best on the pitch, but welcomed the win as an important basis on which Belgium could build its tournament campaign.
Canada will face Croatia next on Sunday, and Belgium will face Morocco the same day.
Off the pitch:
German Interior Minister Nancy Fäser, who is also responsible for sports, wore a “One Love” armband in the stands at the German game on Wednesday, where she sat next to FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Faeser posted a photo of herself on Twitter wearing the band with the hashtag #OneLove.
News agency DPA reported that Faeser wore the bracelet under a pink blazer, which she took off in the first half.
— Nancy Faeser (@NancyFaeser) 23. November 2022
“In today’s world, it is incomprehensible that FIFA does not want people to speak up openly for tolerance and against discrimination. It doesn’t fit in our time and isn’t appropriate for people,” said Faeser during a visit to a German Football Association event in Doha before the game.
The German players also kept their mouths shut when taking a team photo ahead of their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday to protest against FIFA’s threat to sanction players for wearing the “OneLove” bracelet.
The gesture, which took place in front of dozens of photographers, came after the World Football Federation threatened to sanction players for wearing the rainbow-colored armbands.
The captains of seven European teams had planned to wear the armbands as part of an anti-discrimination campaign, but the soccer players backed down following threats of disciplinary action.