The Japanese national soccer team changed history in Qatar.
In the group league, Japan was placed in the same group as Germany and Spain, both of which had won the World Cup. It seemed impossible for Japan to get through the group, but the Samurai Blue team made a remarkable comeback, overturning the world’s expectations. They came out on top of the “group of death.
The word “giant-killing” has been bandied about in the media every day in response to this remarkable feat, but have you ever heard of the soccer manga that popularized the term in Japan? The catchphrase is “It’s the coach that makes soccer fun,” and the popular manga “Giant Killing” has been serialized in the manga magazine “Morning” since 2007. The series has been published in 61 volumes, with a total of more than 15 million copies sold.
The main character is 35-year-old Takeshi Tatsukai, the manager of East Tokyo United, a team in Japan’s first division soccer team. He believes that “soccer is a sport of deception,” and he creates numerous “giant-killings” with his deceptive tactics that fool not only his opponents, but sometimes even his own teammates. While there are many soccer manga in existence, the focus on the manager is groundbreaking, and the “Tatsukai Magic” continues to attract many readers.
The coach’s masterful leadership behind the great turnaround
The group stage games against Germany and Spain were both reversals after the first goal was conceded. Japan’s national team coach Hajime Moriyasu (54) has made drastic changes in formation and squad members to secure victory. Against Germany, he shifted from a back four to a back three at halftime and introduced attacking players one after the other. Against Spain, they played with a back five in the first half to consolidate their defense and create their own rhythm before counterattacking. In the second half, they introduced players in attacking positions one after another, and scored a big win.
The match between Argentina and Saudi Arabia, which was called “the biggest upset in the history of the World Cup,” was also a game in which the coach’s masterful leadership shone through. Saudi Arabia, which won the match, changed its formation from 4-2-3-1 to 4-1-4-1 in September, just before the tournament. They defeated Argentina by aggressively pressing from the front.
The coach’s judgment has a great influence on such a big win. In “GIANT KILLING,” we learn through Tatsuumi’s eyes the anguish and hardship of the coach before he decides to take a bold step, and the pressure that comes with such a decision. The emotions of the players are also very realistic. The frustrations of the players who are replaced by the manager’s decision are vividly portrayed, and this sublimates the story into something that is not false. The book provides a more detailed look behind the scenes of the national team’s successful run.
Japan will play its first game of the final tournament at midnight on December 6. Their opponent will be Croatia, the runner-up in the previous tournament. We look forward to another Giant Killing with the same momentum.