German media have half-heartedly raised the theory that Japan and Spain may have had an incentive to cooperate during Thursday’s World Cup showdown. As it happened, Japan pulled off an unlikely result by beating the Spanish to put both sides through and send Die Mannschaft home from Qatar.
There were twists and turns aplenty in Group E on Thursday as, at one stage, Japan and Costa Rica were heading through with Germany and Spain crashing out. Serge Gnabry’s opener, Kai Havertz’s brace and a Niclas Fullkrug effort sealed a 4-2 win for the Germans, but it proved to be in vain as Japan’s 2-1 win over Spain left them helpless.
Before the match, German outlet Bild highlighted that Spain and Japan had recently struck up a cooperative relationship in youth football, women’s football and referee training. They added that a Japan victory, which would have been virtually guaranteed to send both of them through, would benefit Spain by landing them in the easier side of the draw.
Although the claims may not have been made in anticipation of a genuine collaboration between the two sides in Qatar, when the favourable result came in for both nations, some fans latched onto the revelation on social media and gave their own opinions.
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Germany boss Hansi Flick was forced to address questions on whether he’ll resign after his nation’s humiliating group-stage exit. “We’ll work that out quickly,” he claimed. “It’s difficult to answer now right after the game when we’re eliminated. We’ll see about that soon.”
Flick also called on his country to improve in the field of player development, with Die Mannschaft sorely missing an orthodox striker in Qatar. Germany also failed to progress from the groups in 2018, making it the first time in World Cup history that they have done so at two successive tournaments.
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