Japan seemed to be enduring in an unwanted déjà vu as it yet again failed to advance beyond the last-16 of the World Cup. The “Samurai Blue” lost to Croatia 1-3 in a penalty shootout.
M YUNIADHI AGUNG AND M IKHSAN MAHAR from Doha, Qatar
·4 menit baca
AL WAKRAH, KOMPAS — Japan seemed to be enduring in an unwanted déjà vu as it yet again failed to advance beyond the last-16 of the World Cup. In its fourth opportunity to appear in the last-16 round of the World Cup currently underway in Qatar, the “Samurai Blue” lost to Croatia 1-3 in a penalty shootout at the Al Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah on Monday (5/12/2022), after the two teams played 1-1 draw at normal and extra time.
On previous three occasions, Japan was stopped by Turkey when it co-hosted the 2002 edition with South Korea. It lost on penalties to Paraguay in South Africa 2010, and crashed to Belgium in Russia 2018.
Croatian goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic emerged the hero for his team in the penalty shootout, managing to hold off three Japanese executors -- Takumi Minamino, Kaoru Mitoma and Maya Yoshida. He was only beaten by Takuma Asano.
On the Croatian team, Nikola Vlasic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mario Pasalic successfully executed their shots from the penalty spot.
Japan and Croatia played out their regular 90-minute match to a 1-1 draw, which was the first match in normal time in the Qatar 2022 knockout stage to be completed without a winner.
Japan took the lead when the first half of normal time had only two minutes remaining. Center-forward Daizen Maeda capitalized on the skirmishes inside the goalpost following a corner kick. The Glasgow Celtic player slotted the ball from a close range to become the Samurai Blue's sixth goal scorer in the World Cup. It was also Japan's first goal in the first half of the world’s biggest football event’s knockout stage.
At the start of the second half, Croatia played a more attacking game. They offensively maximized both flanks to repeatedly pound the Japanese defense marshaled in parallel by five players.
Their efforts paid off in the 55th minute. Ivan Perisic scored Croatia's equalizer with a header after latching on to a cross from defender Dejan Lovren.
Morocco versus Spain
Morocco has the potential to trouble Spain when they meet in another match of the last-16 round on Tuesday (6/12/2022) at 10 p.m. Indonesian Western Time at the Education City Stadium in Doha. Under Walid Reragugui, Morocco has become a team that shows restraint and fluidity in games. The players do not indulge in keeping the ball too long. They are resolute in defending with potent counterattacks that have earned them many goals.
In three matches of Group F, Morocco averaged only 36 percent of ball possession. However, they managed to top the group with seven points ahead of second-placed Croatia and the eliminated Belgium and Canada.
“The Atlas Lions” have qualified to the last-16 of the World Cup only for the second time on the virtue of solid defense. In their group matches, no opponent scored a goal against them. The only occasion when they conceded a goal was in their match against Canada. However, it was their own “suicide” goal by center-back Nayef Aguerd.
Morocco's impressive performance also owes to its midfield, which played a pivotal role in the Atlas Lions' games, led by Sofyan Amrabat, a Fiorentina midfielder. He has proven to be able to organize the midfield to defuse the creativity of world-class midfielders, such as Luka Modric (Croatia) and Kevin de Bruyne (Belgium).
“I'm pleased with our performance against Canada, especially when defending in the second half. It was one of our best performances and we have to show a solid defense again in the match against Spain," Reragugui said during a press conference in Doha on Monday (5/12). The Moroccan team also proved its effectiveness in attack, having scored four goals and just needing two shots on target at average to score a goal.
There is no change in our game after losing to Japan. We start the attacks from the goalkeeper and the attackers remain as our first defenders.
Morocco will again rely on Youssef En-Nesyri as a center forward. Being a graduate of the Malaga football academy and playing his entire professional career with Spanish clubs, which include Malaga, Leganes and currently Sevilla, he is used to dealing with Spanish defenders.
On a separate occasion, Spain coach Luis Enrique looked calm at a press conference ahead of the match against Morocco. He gave the “La Furia Roja” squad free time from a training session on Sunday (4/12).
“There is no change in our game after losing to Japan. We start the attacks from the goalkeeper and the attackers remain as our first defenders," Enrique said.