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The Samurai Blues Touches the Hearts of Football Fans Everywhere

The Samurai Blues touches the hearts of football fans everywhere with their performances on and off the field this World Cup. It has been a tournament full of upsets, and Japan became the fourth team to pull an upset and come out on top of their group stage, a milestone no one thought would happen.

Japan has had some decent success in football in the last few decades, qualifying for the last seven World Cups. They are four-time AFC Asian Cup winners, with their last title claimed back in 2011. Japan recently won the EAFF E-1 Football Championships (East Asian Cup) in 2022 with a 2-1 win against South Korea.

The Samurai Blues do have a handful of players playing in Europe. Their most popular player is Real Socidad’s Takefusa Kubo. He has two goals and four assists in all competitions for the Spanish side. The best player in this tournament has been Ritsu Doan, who plays for FC Freiburg in the Bundesliga. He scored against Spain and Germany to help pull the upsets in both matches.

When Japan drew with Spain and Germany, no one thought they would get out of the group. Spain are ranked seventh in the world while Germany are ranked 11th. Despite being 24th ranked, Japan did not have a strong enough team to challenge the two European powerhouses.

Their first match against Germany did not start well with the Germans outplaying them for most of the game. However, Germany’s only goal came from the penalty spot, with Japan’s Shuichi Gonda denying them every opportunity for another goal. Two pivotal mistakes by the German defense led to two surprising goals for Japan, giving them the 2-1 win. The Samurai Blue won the match with just 28% of possession and 182 passes completed.

This put Japan in a great position to put on more points in their group as they faced a Costa Rica team that just came off an embarrassing 7-0 loss over Spain. Japan seemed to struggle to get a goal past Los Ticos, not getting good chances to capitalize on a goal. They were stunned when Keysher Fuller scored in the 81st minute to hand Japan their first loss of the tournament.

Following a 1-1 draw between Spain and Germany, all Japan needed was a tie or win to advance. They tied against the group favorites and scored a controversial goal to give Japan a 2-1 win. This victory eliminated the German giants, their second group-stage exit in a World Cup in a row since their 2014 title. No one expected Japan to beat both Spain and Germany, and they did not expect them to finish first in Group E.

The Samurai Blues fans have been supporting their team from the start and never gave up hope. After each match, most of their fans stay after and help clean up the trash from the stadium. The players in Japan would also do the same, leaving their dressing rooms spotless with gifts for the stadium workers. In their culture, it is a “sign of respect” to clean up after yourself, and their influence touched the hearts of several football fans everywhere because of the respect the Japanese have.

Japan will now face Croatia in the Round of 16, their second appearance in the knockout round in a row. They will have much work to do to prepare for their toughest opponent yet, but their spirits are still high with an unbelievable performance so far at this World Cup.

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