Early-morning kickoff on September 10: The shockwaves of the World Cup are back! Takuma Asano, “the man with the ball,” clears away the noise against Germany. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Early-morning kickoff on September 10: The shockwaves of the World Cup are back! Takuma Asano, “the man with the ball,” clears away the noise against Germany.

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On the evening of September 9 (early morning of September 10, Japan time), the Japanese national soccer team will clash with the powerful German team in Wolfsburg.

The friendly match will be sandwiched between two world sporting events, but the significance of the match will be great.

Takuma Asano in action against El Salvador in a friendly match on June 15.

As you know, Japan defeated Germany in their first World Cup match in Qatar thanks to two goals by Ritsu Doan (25, Freiburg) and Takuma Asano (28, Bochum). Japan’s team has been a surprise to the world with this unexpected victory.

In contrast, Japan’s second Moriyasu Japan team started in March this year. The team has been steadily accumulating matches with two wins, one minute, and one loss.

Of particular note was the June series against Peru. Kaoru Mitoma (26, Brighton) and Junya Ito (30, Stade Reims), two of Japan’s leading attackers, both scored goals in the 4-1 win over Peru.

And now for the rematch with Germany – Germany was eliminated from the group phase of the World Cup due to the loss to Japan. They have continued to slump this year, with one win, one minute, and three losses. Coach Hange Frick’s position is becoming increasingly tenuous, and another home loss to Japan would surely send shockwaves through the country. If they suffer another home loss to Japan, there is no doubt that they will come at them with a different set of eyes.

With the fast-growing big midfielder Niklas Fürkruk (30, Dortmund) currently suffering from a foot problem, the desperate coach has called up veteran Thomas Müller (33, Bayern) to join the team. The versatility of the Bayern-trained attack will be a threat to Japan.

In fact, when Japan played at the World Cup, they were at the mercy of the German attackers in the first half and were pushed into a one-sided situation. What Japan needs to do is to match up with the Germans and make sure that they do not get the better of them. They need to form a solid defense with Itakura Koh (26, Borussia MG), who has experience from the previous matchup, at the core. The return of Takehiro Tomiyasu (24, Arsenal), who has been out for a long time due to injury, is also a strong factor. Hajime Moriyasu (55) has stated that he will start with a 4-2-3-1 formation, but he will be preparing for a back three including Shogo Taniguchi (32, Ar-Rayan), depending on the situation.

In addition, it is important that “players who should score goals” score goals. Takuma Asano, “the man with the ball,” is the leading candidate for this role.

Adjusting for the match against Germany

Asano has the outstanding trait of “showing more power on the big stage,” as he did in Qatar when he scored a powerful shot that beat the world-class defender Manuel Neuer (37, Bayern).

The jinx began in the 2012 New Year’s High School Soccer Championships when Asano was a sophomore at Yokkaichi Chuo Technical High School, where he scored a string of goals and led his team to the finals. In the final against Municipal Funabashi High School, he scored the first goal in the first minute of the game. Although the team lost the game in extra time due to Ichifune’s tenacity, Takuma Asano’s seven goals made him the top scorer in the tournament, and his name became famous all over Japan.

After joining Sanfrecce Hiroshima in 2001, he was heavily used as a super-sub by coach Moriyasu. In the J-League Championship game against Gamba Osaka in 2003, which was Moriyasu’s third league championship game, he scored the goal that clinched the title. He has honed his competitive spirit.

Since taking up a challenge in Europe in the summer of 2004, he has also been a regular member of the Japanese national team. In September 2005, he scored the first goal of the match against Australia, which qualified for the World Cup in Russia. Without this coup de grace, Japan would not have made it to Russia, nor would they have made it to the last 16.

We have continued to do decisive work on the big stage.

After the launch of Moriyasu Japan, he was consistently called up to the national team, and in October 2009, when the team was on the brink of its greatest crisis, he made an appearance in the final qualifying match against Australia. He scored the game-winning goal that saved Moriyasu from the brink of dismissal.

Then came the final goal against Germany.

Despite the negative reviews that Asano is a little short compared to the likes of Shinji Okazaki (37, Sint-Troiden) and Yuya Osako (33, Kobe), he has continued to do important work, so the coach will not remove his prized possession player.

It is true that I may be a hero a little more often than others, but I always aim to be a goalkeeper who can produce results, so I have a strong feeling that I need to grow more and more.

Asano himself is humble, but there is no doubt that his reputation and influence in Germany have increased as a result of the Qatar World Cup. In fact, Asano’s Bochum team exploded with a goal and an assist in the final game of last season against Leverkusen, a game in which the club’s survival in the first division was at stake. He has continued to lead the attack this season. In the most recent game against Augsburg on September 2, he scored two artistic shots from the outside right.

I myself can say that I have forgotten the last game against Germany and I don’t think about it too much. I don’t even know if we can fight the same way. I think it will be a completely different match. What we must not make the mistake of thinking is that although we won last time, Germany is definitely at a higher level, both individually and as a team. We have to be 100% challengers to win. That said, there is nothing to be afraid of. There are many Japanese players playing overseas, and I am confident that we can do it no matter who the opponent is. We will prepare well and be ready to win.

Asano said after training on his first day with the national team. Always being a challenger is his motto. He is able to score goal after goal at crucial moments because he pushes himself so hard on the pitch.

He is more than capable of showing tremendous explosiveness in this match, a game in which he will be under a lot of pressure, and becoming the driving force behind Germany’s back-to-back victories. It will also be a major touchstone for Asano to grab the ace FW position at the 26th World Cup in North and Central America.

  • Interview and text by Etsuko Motokawa Etsuko Motokawa Photo Afro (1st photo) Etsuko Motokawa (2nd-4th photos)

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