What can I say about this match that hasn’t already been said? Japan defeats the home team, and forces all of us to throw away the basic structure of our narratives about this world cup, in which everyone was supposed to be fighting for the chance to lose to Germany.
Japan played a perfect defensive game. Where most teams challenging Germany seem to do so by breaking up Germany’s play, somehow Japan figured out how to play Germany’s game, better. And they scored, with about twelve minutes of extra-time left. Japan played smart and physical, smashing all narratives about Germany’s height advantage.
Sawa’s pass to Miruyama (who’d subbed in) was perfect, Miruyama’s goal itself was extraordinary – a sly shot from a very tight angle slipped over a teckling defender and Nadine Angerer’s reach. It was a flash in which everything came together.
Japan’s keeper Aymu Kaihori had a great match tonight.