World Cup titans Spain and Germany are living to fight another day


doha, qatar – felt it, to the vibe, like a Champions League Group stage play between potential tournament winners. You prod, you push, but, ultimately, you err on the side of caution because you know you’ll live to fight another day. And the harm of a resounding defeat—even if only psychological, even if only to answer a flurry of criticism and questions—much outweighs the benefits of the three points, which, frankly, no one remembers. Will keep

It could have been different, of course, if Japan did not soil the bed in any way Costa Rica In the first day, a losing effort 1-0 to an opponent who sent seven goals spain And which, on paper, clearly looked out of place. If Japan had won, the arithmetic Germany Cruelty would have been simpler: beat Spain or go home after just two games, with Canada And Queue (well, in the latter case, Staying House.)

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Instead, Japan’s result meant that Germany’s fate would be decided on the day of the final match, no matter what. 1-1 However, the draw against Spain meant that Germany were no longer in control of their own destiny. They would have to beat Costa Rica and hope that Spain beat Japan. Both are likely, maybe even very likely, but the last World Cup has taught us that nothing should be taken lightly. And, frankly, whether Japan beats Spain or Germany fails to beat Costa Rica is far less likely than, say, a country of 3 million being awarded the World Cup in the middle of winter. ?

Besides, Germany knows all about not taking things lightly. were eliminated in their group-stage South Korea Still smart from four years ago. And, on that occasion at least, he held the future in his hands. Here in Qatar they don’t.

Still, there was a lack of conservatism and urgency from both teams at the Al-Bait Stadium on Sunday night.

Manager Hansi Flick’s changes showed that he was playing the long game. He’s gone Niklas Sule back in the heart of the defense (good idea, having the world’s greatest full-back, but not against pheran torres And Dani Olmo) and put Thilo Kehrer On the right (you have lemons, make lemonade). Leon Goretzka got included in Joshua Kimmich And ilke gundogan In midfield, in an attempt to counter Luis Enrique’s patented “death by possession” approach.

most obviously, he moved Thomas Muller To center-forward. it’s a role Bayern Munich The man hasn’t played regularly for over a decade, but he must play. At 33, he is not what he used to be in terms of athleticism, and he was never the most technically sophisticated player, but intelligence, charisma and mastery of spatial relations still make him an asset.

For most of the game, the flick proved to be accurate. Germany conceded few chances, but the press worked, if not to create the high turnovers so prized by Flick, then at least to contain Spain’s build-up in areas where it was less threatening.

For his part, it seemed as though Spain coach Luis Enrique was watching Germany too. His only change Dani Carvajal For caesar azpilicueta — was more about load management for his aging right-back than any tactical reason.

Spain played their game and Germany countered with a basic, but effective press, which limited Spain’s chances to a Dani Olmo shot, brilliantly saved. manuel neuer, By half-time, it wasn’t much to write home about, but a clean sheet was already something after Japan’s collapse.

Luis Enrique can be unpredictable, but like a true centre-forward alvaro morata For Torres, the 10 minutes in the second half were straight out of basic coaching manuals. But sometimes the simplest tricks are the most effective. Jordi Alba Found space down the left and sent a ball which, after stealing ahead of Sule, Morata let cross his body and hammered home with the outside of his right foot. shortly thereafter, marco asensio The chance to make it 2-0 was missed and Flick decided it was time to gamble.

came on leroy sane (still probably not fully fit, but fit enough to make an appearance) and batting-ram central striker Niklas Fulkrug, Jamal Musiala sane and Serge Gnabry on either side of him and Fulcrug in front of him.

logical consequence? Spain retreated. And, at this point, you were either going to get a Spanish goal on the counter or a German equaliser. We got the latter seven minutes from time, with Sane combining with Musiala to smash a vicious Fulcrum unai simonThe trap of

Ten minutes later, after full-time and injury time, Flick had Luis Enrique, his arm around his neck, giggling and laughing. It felt pleasant, as if these two men knew they could meet again.

Of course, Costa Rica and Japan have something to live up to.

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