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Germany’s Loss to Japan is Noteworthy - But Not For The Usual Reasons

This is the World Cup of chaos.

The World Cup is young, but there have already been two noteworthy upsets and a couple of noteworthy ties. Perhaps the two most shocking results are Argentina’s loss to Saudi Arabia, and Germany’s loss to Japan, both of which ended 2-1. And though it’s possible to make an analysis of both games that focuses on the missed opportunities or defensive mistakes, there are a lot of underlying issues that explain why the results of this World Cup are so over the place.

First, the fact that the World Cup is taking place in November/December, right in the middle of club competitions, means teams did not have enough time to train together before the start of the World Cup. Most teams got a week, at most, before their first World Cup game – unlike the month or so they typically get. That’s hardly enough time to get to know your teammates, much less to train for a tournament like the World Cup.

That’s without going into the numerous injuries that have deprived the World Cup of top players, including current Ballon d'Or winner Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, Timo Werner, Reece James, Diogo Jota, Giovani Lo Celso, Marco Reus and Sadio Mane, among others. Those are all sensible absences for their teams, and though not all, some of their injuries are the direct result of playing up till the week before the World Cup. On a normal Word Cup year, they’d be present in the tournament.

Just a few days into the World Cup, all of this has added up to some surprising results. Saudi Arabia and Japan’s wins aside, Morocco tied with Croatia, and Tunisia did the same with Denmark. And the surprising Argentina and Germany results mean those teams go into games with Mexico and Spain needing a win. It's good for the spectacle, but it’s certainly not good for the sport in general.

But FIFA has turned a blind eye to all the issues surrounding Qatar hosting the World Cup from the beginning, so it seems clear that their priority isn’t being ambassadors for the game, or supporting the teams participating in the World Cup, but getting as much money from the tournament as possible. And sadly, while that remains so, the teams involved in this competition, and every other World Cup going forward, cannot really count on FIFA to provide them with the best conditions to compete in.

And as for fans …they might enjoy the chaos, for a while. But chaos is no substitute for good football, and it feels like whatever happens, we won’t get the best version of the game we could have out of Qatar 2022. Thanks, FIFA.