Germany’s bid to re-establish its status as a Turniermannschaft (tournament team) begins with an opening group-stage encounter against Japan on Wednesday afternoon.
Joachim Low was still at the helm for Germany’s most recent World Cup match; a crushing 2-0 defeat to South Korea which confirmed the nation’s first-ever group-stage exit.
Japan squeaked out of their pool by the narrowest of margins, advancing Senegal because they collected fewer yellow cards. Just as Germany’s coach Hansi Flick was assistant to Low, Hajime Moriyasu replaced his former boss Akira Nishina after the 2018 tournament.
Where is Germany vs Japan playing?
Location: Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
Date: Wednesday 23 November
Kick-off Time: 13:00 GMT / 08:00 ET / 05:00 PT
Germany Team News
Lukas Klostermann lasted 34 minutes before he was replaced in Germany’s final warm-up match ahead of the World Cup. However, Flick quashed any suggestions of an injury for the RB Leipzig defender, revealing that it was a pre-planned arrangement given Klostermann’s lack of game-time this season.
The 26-year-old played just one Bundesliga match before rupturing an ankle ligament in August.
Neither Thomas Muller nor Antonio Rudiger featured in the squad which beat Oman a week before their World Cup opener. The pair is expected to resume training four days ahead of the fixture and both will have an eye on penetrating Flick’s starting XI.
Germany predicted lineup vs Japan
Germany Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kehrer, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Goretzka; Hofmann, Musiala, Sane; Havertz.
Bench: Trapp, Ter Stegen, Ginter, Klostermann, Gunter, Schlotterbeck, Bella-Kotchap, Gotze, Muller, Brandt, Gundogan, Fullkrug, Gnabry, Adeyemi, Moukoko.
Japan Team News
Yuya Nakayama had to be replaced in the squad by Shuto Machino after Huddersfield Town confirmed he would require surgery on his Achilles tendon.
Wataru Endo was stretchered off after a clash of heads during Stuttgart’s penultimate Bundesliga match. The 29-year-old midfielder sat out his side’s final game with a concussion but was included in Japan’s final 26.
Takehiro Tomiyasu pulled up with what Mikel Arteta described as “a small injury” during Arsenal’s Europa League victory over FC Zurich at the start of the month. A key figure in Japan’s setup, Tomiyasu came off the bench in the Blue Samarai’s final pre-World Cup friendly against Canada.
Japan predicted lineup vs Germany
Japan Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): Shimdt; Sakai, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, Nagatomo; Shibisaki, Morita; J Ito, Kamada, Kubo; Minamino.
Bench: Kawashima, Gonda, Yamane, Taniguchi, Itakura, H Ito, Endo, Doan, Mitoma, Tanaka, Soma, Asano, Machino, Ueda, Maeda.
Half-time/full-time prediction: Germany
Germany is our pick to win this World Cup fixture opener against Japan. They meet Japan for the first time and while not much has been seen in terms of attacking and scoring goals, the Germans are far much a better side based on the latest FIFA rankings. They have improved tremendously under Hans Flick who averages 2.13 points after 15 matches in charge. On the other hand, Japan’s Hajime Moriyasu has been called up from U23 to head the national team once again. He hasn’t coached outside the country, starting from Sanfrecce Hiroshima then U21, Japan Olympic team, U22, and U23. He previously coached the national soccer team in the 2018 World Cup. He averages 2.19 points in 59 matches.
Total Goals Prediction: Under 2.5 goals
This will be a tough encounter as both teams will fight to unlock their potential in their opening fixture. While Germany is our pick to win the game, they will face a very defensive opponent in Japan. The visitors have now kept five clean sheets in a row, so we expect a deadlocked clash with fewer than 3 goals.
Germany vs Japan Score Prediction
German fans will be familiar with a large slice of Japan’s squad. Eight of Moriyasu’s side play their football in Germany’s top two tiers – only seven-ply their trade in Japan.
These teams share a knowledge of the Bundesliga and a liking for the ball. Both nations are used to controlling matches within their confederations but each often struggles to turn possession into penetration without a prolific center-forward at their disposal.
Flick insisted that “expectations in Germany are extremely high” ahead of the tournament. While his side should have enough to begin the campaign with a win, whether they will match those lofty ambitions is far less certain.
Prediction: Germany 1-0 Japan