World Cup 2022 Newsletter: How Germany lost to Japan; why the USMNT must start Gio Reyna against England

You wanted more surprises in the World Cup? You got it. I’m Roger Gonzalez and welcome to the Thanksgiving Eve edition of the Golazo Starting XI newsletter. There’s a lot to do today, including Japan’s stunning victory over Germany and a big decision for USA coach Gregg Berhalter.

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⚽ The front line

How did Germany lose?

A day after Argentina were somehow beaten by massive underdogs Saudi Arabia, four-time champions Germany joined the club from Qatar. The Germans laid an egg in 2018 and this time around with Hansi Flick they were seen as one of the potential title favourites. Just like the Argentinians, the Germans conceded two goals in the second half to lose 2-1. Both of the Japanese goals came in the final 15 minutes of an epic and unexpected comeback.

So how did Germany let this one get away with it?

There were a lot of mistakes made by the Germans in this one. Questionable decisions and poor defending made the difference in this one, and now the mighty Germans might be one bad result away from heading home. Super substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano each scored in nine minutes to give the Japanese their biggest ever World Cup victory.

Getty Images

Our friend Jimmy Conrad pointed out, Flick’s team selection turned out to be abysmal. It all starts with understanding that Japan has rhythm, and countering that with players who can move is a must. Decision to start slow-moving Niklas Sule at right-back will haunt Flick. He has the speed of the Razor scooter used by a four-year-old, and he was clearly partially at fault on both goals Germany allowed.

So what else did he do wrong?

  • The backline did not keep its shape. If you watch TV, you want your defense to be in an organized vertical line pretty much all the time so you have an advantage when it comes to catching the other team offside. This is how the Saudis won their victory over the Argentines.
  • On that first goal, he was in the corner of the box, which is understandable given he was a right-back. But then, what happened next? Sule twisted like a pretzel and didn’t get enough pressure, resulting in a free kick that was saved by Manuel Neuer. A loose ball falls into the heart of the box and is put away by the underdogs. Too easy. He needs to get inside and push that striker away, knowing that a cross is a less dangerous opportunity to deal with.
  • On the second goal he was so deep and offered no cover, running away from the ball instead of trying to double the striker. He had no one else to fear, so why not approach the ball?
  • There was another instance where Japan was played over, and the only reason play was allowed was because Sule was five yards from the rest of the defenseplaying the runner.

He should be benched and Lukas Klostermann should take his place if he is healthy. Otherwise, you better play nobody there. I probably won’t tell the difference between that and Sule.

On a positive note, it wasn’t that the German attack was all that bad – they had the chances they needed to win. Germany finished with 26 shots, 14 more than Japan, including nine on goal, and they had 74% possession. But as is so often the case in the sport, it all boils down to the most effective team in front of goal, the one that can try their golden luck. That day, it was Samurai Blue who shocked the world.

🔗 Midfield Linking Game

Reyna to start for USMNT against England

Getty Images

The biggest question to come out of USA’s 1-1 draw with Wales (apart from why the hell did Walker Zimmerman tackle Gareth Bale like that?) was where the hell was Gio Reyna? The team’s most talented player didn’t feature at all, on the bench for 90 minutes. Look, he seemed like a logical player to set up, knowing that his creativity and ability to run on goal could have led to a few decent chances in the second half. The American attack was pretty awful outside of the first 30 minutes or so. Gregg Berhalter said after the game that the team controlled him due to muscle pain, with the player saying he was 100%. Berhalter added that he will be available for England, and he has to be. He is a must against the Three Lions.

The United States, despite a good first half and 59% ownership, only recorded a shot on target throughout the game. It’s just not enough. Reyna, on the other hand, already has as many goals this season for Borussia Dortmund (two) as he scored all last season for the German club.

USA can’t play 45 minutes against a title contender, and they need someone who can offer a bit of individual brilliance to turn a game around. Reyna will be more motivated against his home nation – he was born in Sunderland – and he seems like a logical choice to replace someone like Weston McKennie or Yunus Musah as a substitute. Whether Berhalter will tinker with the attacking trio of Christian Pulisic, Josh Sargent and Tim Weah remains to be seen, but after scoring just one goal he may need it. My call would be to get Reyna in front of Weah for about an hour. You can’t trade him for Pulisic, and USA really need a striker. Or could Berhalter mix things up and go for a false nine? I don’t see him doing that.

In the end, the pressure mounts after failing to beat Wales. Getting a point from the game against England would be huge, and USA need their most talented player to have a chance.

Listen below and follow In Football We Trust: A CBS Sports Football Podcast where your three favorite former USMNT players cover everything you could want to know about the United States Men’s National Team during the World Cup in Qatar.

Let’s go to some links:

💰 Back lines

Best bets

Let’s pick some World Cup matches!

All odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

  • Uruguay vs South Korea, Thursday, 8 a.m. ET
    💰 THE CHOICE: Both teams score (+115). The Uruguayan defense is aging and South Korean star Heung-min Son can exploit them. I have no worries about Uruguay scoring with all their attacking skill, but it’s not the same defense that dominated more than a decade ago. The South Americans have allowed an average of more than one goal per game in World Cup qualifiers, including 11 in four games last year.
  • Brazil vs Serbia, Thursday, 2 p.m. ET
    💰 THE CHOICE: Brazil -1.5 (+130). The Brazilians are the most talented team in the tournament and I don’t see how they wouldn’t score three goals against Serbia. Because of that, I’d like the value here to win them by two goals with Neymar in the lead. Serbia have talent in attack, but Brazil should be able to control the ball and dictate the game.

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