Saudi Arabia produced a stunning comeback win against World No. 3 Argentina in their first group fixture, leaving La Albiceleste fell short from equaling Italy’s world record of 37-game undefeated streak. Argentina’s last loss came against Brazil in the semifinal of the 2019 Copa América, and since then, they have won a total of 25 games and drawn 11 times in their 36-game unbeaten period, in which two international trophies were also collected by La Albiceleste, a Copa América in 2021 and a CONMEBOL–UEFA Cup of Champions in 2022. To celebrate this monumental victory, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had also declared the following Wednesday as a public holiday for all.
But Saudi Arabia’s shocking triumph was not the only upset so far in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as Japan also produced a vital comeback win against the four-time FIFA World Cup champion and the 2014 winner, Germany in their inaugural Group E match.
Another Comeback Upset in the 2022 FIFA World Cup
Die Mannschaft drew first blood against the Japanese in the 33rd minute, courtesy of an İlkay Gündoğan’s spot kick. But similar to that of the Saudi Arabia-Argentina clash, Germany’s opponent fought back in the second half and equalised in the 75th minute via German Bundesliga 1 SC Freiburg’s Ritsu Dōan scoring from a Manuel Neuer’s rebounded save. The Japanese continued to press their German opposition and their efforts paid off with an 83rd-minute strike through another Bundesliga player Takuma Asano, sealing an important victory and lifting the hopes of them progressing to the next round.
26 Shots and 74% Possession from Germany
Group E is dubbed the Group of Death in this year’s World Cup as traditional European powerhouses, namely Spain and Germany are placed in the group, alongside solid Asian representative Japan and the 49th-ranked Costa Rica. This means that any points dropped in three group fixtures from any of the four teams will prove costly in order to reach the knockout stages of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
During a post-match interview, Germany’s Thomas Müller stated that, “I am still a bit baffled because, the way we played, those are the sort of games you normally win. We were the dominant side and hardly gave anything away either with or without the ball. I felt we played an intensive game. But it’s difficult to win when you don’t take your chances going forward and then concede goals like that at the back. Now we need to make sure we shake ourselves off, recover physically and make sure we approach the Spain game to win.”
During the Germany-Japan clash, the former managed 26 shots as a whole, 74% possession and almost three times more passes that the latter, but the conversion rate was low for the Germans as their only goal in the match came from a penalty, indicating a poor finishing from the Die Mannschaft. With their next match being Spain, who had overcome Costa Rica in their Group B match with a 7-0 thrashing over Los Ticos, the Germans would need to sort out their attacking issues in no time to avoid any more points dropped from their remaining group matches.
(Photo Credits: Sportsnet)