The World Cup continues to throw up shock after shock, and Wednesday was no different.
After Croatia and Morocco’s snooze-fest, Germany and Japan treated us to a truly entertaining spectacle, though it seemed to be going all to plan for the 2014 winners early on.
An Ilkay Gundogan penalty had Hansi Flick’s side up and running for the tournament, and with stars like Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Muller and Antonio Rudiger in the side, they were expected to see out the result and claim their first points.
However, a second-half meltdown from Germany alongside some inspired substitutions from Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu turned the game on its head.
Substitute Ritsu Doan was on hand to finally beat Manuel Neuer, who had made a handful of saves previously to keep his side ahead.
The dream turnaround for the Samurai Blue was completed just seven minutes after Doan’s 75th-minute effort as Takuma Asano – another replacement from the bench – collected Ko Itakura’s pass and fired past Neuer at his near post.
It isn’t the first shock of this World Cup. Argentina, having taken a 1-0 lead, were shocked by Saudi Arabia as a second-half comeback quickly saw Saleh Al-Shehri and Salem Al-Dawsari strike in quick succession to cancel out Lionel Messi’s penalty.
Japan’s triumph over Germany splits Group E wide open before Spain’s clash with Costa Rica, with the Germans again looking nervous in the group stage after their 2018 exit at the same stage.