Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu explained the Premier League's influence on his side following their remarkable comeback win over Germany at the World Cup.
The Samurai Blue produced one of the shocks of the tournament by coming from behind to beat Germany 2-1 on Wednesday in Qatar. Ilkay Gundogan put the Germans ahead from the penalty spot before changes from Moriyasu inspired a comeback.
Ritsu Doan slotted in from close range before former Arsenal man Takuma Asano completed the shock with a finish from a narrow angle. The victory came after Saudi Arabia beat Argentina 2-1, which lit up the World Cup in Qatar.
Japan had just 26.2 per cent possession, but hit Germany brilliantly on the counter-attack after riding their luck. According to statisticians Opta, that is the second-lowest possession figure for a winning team at the World Cup, behind only South Korea, who beat Germany 2-0 in 2018 with just 26 per cent of the ball.
Moriyasu praised his players for making history with their remarkable performance. “I believe it’s a historic moment, a historic victory, to say the least,” he said.
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“If I’m thinking of the development of Japanese football, we have been building up. It’s a big surprise and we are now reaching the global standard. We saw Saudi Arabia with a surprise win [beating Argentina on Tuesday], so we are showing our capability of Asian football
“From the start we decided to be aggressive; however Germany’s aggression was higher. This was no surprise for us. They have a wonderful goalkeeper, Mr Neuer. However our squad were very intelligent, they were smart and played well persistently. They fought really hard.”
Japan has lots of players who ply their trade in Europe and Moriyasu thinks that has been key to their development. “Of six of our squad, four play in the Bundesliga, two in the Premier League,” he said. “They are fighting in these very strong tough leagues. They’ve been building up their strength. So in that context, if those leagues have been contributing to the development of our Japanese players, I respect that and I’m very grateful for this.”
Germany manager Hansi Flick was understandably downbeat ahead of crunch games against Spain and Costa Rica. “With this defeat and no points we are under pressure, there is no question about this,” he said.
“We are to blame. We can only blame ourselves. We have to make sure we can come out of this. We need to be courageous.”