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Qatar FIFA World Cup: Germany vs Japan; Can Germany bounce back from their shock 2018 World Cup exit?
sokapro-Qatar FIFA World Cup: Germany vs Japan; Can Germany bounce back from their shock 2018 World Cup exit?

Russia will be seeking to consign dismal memories of Russia 2018 to history as they kick off their 2022 campaign against Asian giants Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Germany were eliminated from the group stage four years ago while Japan were on the verge of stunning Belgium in the round of 16 before being knocked out. Truly, the curse of the defending champions was pretty much alive and real to Germany in the 2018 Russia FIFA World Cup. The European nation that was formerly led by Joachim Low saw the defense of their 2014 crown end at the first hurdle before a last-16 elimination to England in the Euro 2020. That defeat at the Wembley stadium marked the end of Joachim Low's celebrated tenure as Hanki Flick took over the reins at the helm of the German national team. 

An underwhelming record of just two wins from their last eight games has not served to increase the German confidence, as they finished third in their Nations League group with Italy who shockingly never qualified for the FIFA Qatar 2022 World Cup topped the group. Germany, however, beat Oman 1-0 in last Wednesday's world cup warm-up. With fellow four-time winners Italy not present at the tournament, Germany can equal Brazil's long-standing record of five World Cup crowns should they go all the way in Qatar. However, navigating a group with Spain, Japan, and Costa Rica will not be a walk in the park. They were the first team to qualify for the world cup finals with exception of the host nation, Qatar. 

Japan was leading 2-0 en route to the 2018 world cup quarter-finals but their adventure was put to an abrupt end as Belgium managed to pull a comeback netting thrice, a victory that propelled them all the way to the semis where they lost to France but ended up going home with the bronze medal after beating England in the third place playoffs. Japan have made a habit of going out in the group stage before reaching the last 16 of the World Cup in their six tournaments since 1998. Hajime Moriyasu, Japan's head coach guided the nation into the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup winning 15 out of their 18 games and scoring 58 goals in the run-up. 

The Asian nation now endeavours to follow in the footsteps of close neighbours South Korea, who defeated Germany in the Russia competition four years ago. It will be the first time that Germany and Japan are locking horns in a competitive match having met twice before in a 2004 friendly match where Germany won 3-0 and an exhibition game two years ago that ended in a 2-2 draw. 

 (Image: Khel Now)