This World Cup has exceeded the expectation. We have seen Argentina get shellshocked by Saudi Arabia, and now, down goes another contender. Day 4 of the World Cup has been nothing short of exciting. Let’s take a rewind, starting with the biggest shocker of today.
Mighty Japan defeated Germany
The Group of Death of this year’s World Cup started with a face-off between Germany and Japan. Although recent forms of Germany were relatively poor, they were still widely believed to pull out a win against The Blue Samurai.
It started with the Germans putting a stamp on the game, with the midfield dominating the play and creating some decent chances. But the first big chance went the Japanese way. From a careless loose ball from Gundogan, the Japanese executed a lighting-speed counter, and Maeda finished past Neuer. The goal was marked offside, a let-off for Germany. The remaining first half was a Kimmich show, highlighted by a beautiful chip pass putting Raum in a 1v1 position, forcing Gonda to concede a penalty. Gundogan converted to put Germany in charge heading to the break.
The second half was the same scenario. Germany attacked, and Japan defended, waiting for a chance to counter. Gnabry and Musiala were even in prime positions to put the match away, but they failed. And as an old saying in football goes, if you can’t manage to score your chances, it will come back to hurt you. Two substitutions from coach Moriyasu in Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano consecutively scored in minutes, shocking the German. The morale of Germany was damaged, and they couldn’t produce any significant play in the remainder. Match ended 2-1 in a dramatic favor of Japan.
As any anime fan could say, the power of friendship won.
Reigning runner-ups started slow
Croatia came to the Qatar World Cup as the reigning runner-up after their miracle run 4 years ago. But the squad looks drastically different than the one that almost brought them glory. The ship’s leaders are still there, Luka Modric and coach Zlatko Dalic, but now adding some younger elements. They started their campaign against Morocco, where they were considered the favorite.
Not only did Croatia fail to create any significant goal-scoring opportunities, but their defense was also often put in an alarming position with Morocco’s counter-attacks. A star-studded midfield of Kovacic, Brozovic, and Modric looked lost. And per usual, the only bright spot from the boys in checkers was their 37-year-old captain. He worked untiringly around the field, reclaiming lost balls and making outstanding passes.
Both managers made changes to improve their offensive games. But it was no use. Both teams looked hopeless in finding a way past the opposition’s goalkeeper. Match ended in a dreadful 0-0 draw.
Spain put the s-Pain in Costa Rica’s heart
Let’s reveal the score first so we can partly see what happened. 7-0. The Spanish gave Costa Rican a seven-up right in the first match.
Now, Spain was the overwhelming favorite to win this game. But remember 2014 when Costa Rica became a dark horse coming out of the Group of Death? That fearless, gritty Costa Rica team. But that was the story of eight years ago. This time, there was no miracle.
A whopping 1045 passes were made by the Spanish, averaging a pass per 5s and 94% accuracy. That goes along with more than 82% possession. Come on now, guys, give Costa Rica a chance to touch the ball as well. Olmo, Asensio, and Ferran Torres put them up by three at the half. At this point, we knew this was over.
In the second half, a masterclass from reigning Golden Boy Gavi put the nails in the coffin. He looked so smooth with the ball and even scored one to celebrate being the youngest Spanish to play in a World Cup. There is little to say here. If anything, it’s Morata scored.
Belgium escaped Canadian scares
We almost witnessed another shocker today. Belgium took on Canada to round off a great day of action. Saving the best for last was an understatement. The fans all expected a blow-out in favor of Belgium, considering the names in both rosters and the experience difference.
But as we should’ve known since the beginning of this World Cup, anything is possible. The blazing speed of every Canadian player, not just Alphonso Davies, flabbergasted Belgium. Canada’s determination and willpower to return to their first World Cup in decades showed. They used Carrasco’s weak defensive ability as their focal point of attack, so many chances were created down that right wing. Their effort paid off. From a dangerous corner, Buchanan’s shot hit Carrasco’s arm: penalty for Canada. Well, almost pulled off. Is it a beauty contest because Alphonso Davies just became Miss Penalty? All jokes aside, outstanding save by Courtois.
The second half continued with Canada’s domination. But their lines being pushed too high made them pay the price. A phenomenal ball up top saw Batshuayi beat the defender and the goalkeeper to open the scoreline. And although Canada tried their best in the last minutes, Courtois let them all down. The only goal from Bats-man sealed Belgium’s 1-0 victory
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