The 2022 World Cup may last until mid-December, but the matches will fly by quicker than you expect. We’re here to make sure that you get the most out of the most action-packed football tournament in the world.
Your next World Cup Match to Catch: Germany vs. Japan.
Germany: Making Amends
The German team, also known as Die Mannschaft, is a mainstay in the World Cup roster. They have been to eight World Cup finals, and have reached the semifinals twelve times. But, Russia 2018 could have easily been their worst performance at the tournament in their history.
In the last edition of the World Cup, Germany came into the competition as the defending champions. To their surprise, the team finished last in their group standings, only winning one game, and failed to make it past the group stage.
Since then, Germany has struggled on the international stage. They suffered a qualifying loss to North Macedonia, a 6-0 defeat to Spain in the Nations League, and a 2-0 loss to England in the Euro 2020. But ever since former Bayern manager, Hansi Flick, took the reigns, the Germans have seen a more positive trend.
Germany became the first team to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after they finished first in their qualifying group last year. And now, they are favorites to win their opening match against Japan.
Although they are expected to advance to the next stage of the tournament, losses to their squad will still prove to be a challenge for Germany, with key figures such as Timo Werner and Florian Wirtz out due to injuries.
The first match of any country in a World Cup matters hugely. Not only does it set the tone, but statistically, 84% of the teams who won their first match in the last six tournaments have advanced to the next round.
Can Germany break through the cloud that has been hanging over them since Russia 2018?
Japan: The Underdogs
Everyone loves a good underdog story. And up against the World Cup giant that is Germany, that is what Japan is—an underdog.
Unlike Germany, who rarely exits after the group stage, Japan has never made it past the Round of 16 in the tournament in its history. In addition, they have only won one out of their last eight World Cup matches. But, they are now on their seventh appearance and are determined to change that.
In the last World Cup in Russia, Japan made it past the first group stage with one win, one loss, and one draw. Their win was definitely the highlight of their performance that year, as they became the first Asian team to defeat a South American football team when they won against Colombia.
Advancing to the Round of 16, however, they ultimately fell to Belgium, suffering a 3-2 loss.
In the qualification for the 2022 World Cup, Japan booked their ticket to the tournament with a 2-0 victory against Australia last March. But as a team from the Asian Football Confederation, they have only played two friendlies against Germany in the past. On both occasions, Die Mannschaft won.
Now coming into their first 2022 World Cup match, will they be able to pull off an upset against the European giants?
Banner image from Germany on Twitter.