World Cup 2022: Germany take on Japan with ‘huge motivation’ to avoid shock defeat

Germany lost to Mexico and South Korea at the 2018 World Cup in Russia
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Joshua Kimmich is desperate for Germany to right the wrongs of their dismal 2018 World Cup campaign.

The Germans traveled to Russia as starters but finished bottom of their group after shock defeats to Mexico and South Korea.

The four-time champions face Japan on Wednesday (13:00 GMT) in Group E.

“Our motivation is huge. We know it’s terrible what happened and we’ve waited long enough, four and a half years,” Bayern Munich’s Kimmich said.

“The first match is extremely important. At the Euros [last year] we lost the first game and we didn’t win it. It was quite an experience and I hope we will win,” added the midfielder.

Germany are ranked 11th in the world, 13 places ahead of Japan and boss Hansi Flick was weary of a shock loss, especially after Argentina lost 2-1 to Saudi Arabia tuesday.

“We saw that anything is possible, but that makes it so beautiful and interesting – never underestimate your opponent,” added Flick.

Eight of the Japanese team’s 26 players play in Germany, including captain and former Southampton defender Maya Yoshida, who is with Schalke.

Yoshida said: “The first game is the hardest, winning this group is a very important game.

“We have to be brave. Germany are a top team, it’s not easy, but each of us is working hard. We have good qualities and we are united. That’s the key.

“They have good qualities, speed, pace and technical ability. There will probably be fewer opportunities in attack.”

Japanese coach Hajime Moriyasu added: “Players and staff, we feel the same. We would like to go to the round of 16 and beyond.

“For us, it’s going to be about changing history. That’s the goal we feel.”

Japan, playing in their seventh consecutive World Cup, have reached the round of 16 three times, but never the quarter-finals.

TEAM NEWS

Germany will be without former Manchester City winger Leroy Sane, who suffered a knee injury in training, but striker Thomas Muller is fit.

Moriyasu reported no injury concerns for Japan ahead of his final training session.

MATCH FACTS

  • Germany and Japan meet for the first time in the World Cup. Germany are undefeated in their two previous meetings with Japan (1 win, 1 draw), two friendly internationals in 2004 (3-0) and 2006 (2-2). All seven goals in their previous two encounters came in the second half.
  • Germany have won the World Cup four times, the most for any European nation (Italy also four). Of all the nations, only Brazil have lifted the trophy on more occasions (five).
  • This will be Germany’s 20th World Cup appearance, becoming the second team, after Brazil, to reach the 20-tournament appearance mark. The last time they didn’t take part in a World Cup was in 1950. Since then, they have gone beyond the first round of every edition except 2018, when they finished bottom of their group.
  • This will be Japan’s seventh consecutive appearance at the World Cup, a streak dating back to 1998. It is the second-longest streak of consecutive appearances by an Asian nation behind South Korea’s current streak of 10 tournaments. (including 2022).

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