Why didn’t Leroy Sane start for Germany against Japan?

Just 24 hours after Argentina’s shock World Cup defeat to Saudi Arabia, the football gods are back again.

This time it’s up world Cup Heavyweights Germany fell to a shock defeat in their opening group match, losing 2-1 to brave and tenacious Japan.

Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty gave Germany a deserved lead at the time, but they couldn’t find a way past Shuichi Gonda for a second – the offside flag denied Kai Havertz one time they scored against the Japanese.

Germany dominated much of the game but were punished for their profligacy in front of goal with 15 minutes remaining. Ritsu Doan equalized with his left foot after a Manuel Neuer save before Takuma Asano blasted a shot into the net from the roughest of angles – the Bayern goalkeeper might not have hidden himself on that occasion.

The result rocked the World Cup for the second day in a row, but it also left many German fans asking questions of Hansi Flick.

Things went wrong with Hansi Flick against Japan

Things went wrong with Hansi Flick v. Japan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The initial post-mortem after any shock defeat always comes down to team selection, and some will feel Leroy Sane should have started, or at least played a part in the game, for Germany.

Instead, the dynamic winger was left with a brief offer to watch by Flick, who was of course his manager during a hugely successful spell at Bayern. Jamal Musiala, Thomas Müller, Serge Gnabry and Kai Havertz are Germany’s pre-selected areas, with the latter particularly struggling in their role as central striker.

Sane’s threat of course comes from the outside, usually, but he’s played a key role at Bayern. The 26-year-old has uncanny speed and poses a different threat to those around him – it will be interesting to see if Flick uses him in the remaining group matches against Spain and Costa Rica.

Similarly, many felt that Germany was missing Leon Goretzka’s tireless work at center midfield, which was overlooked in favor of the midfield duo of Ilkay Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich.

His absence is perhaps more understandable given Flick’s desire to play in a 4-2-3-1 formation, and it’s hard to imagine Kimmich or Gundogan being left out for their quality of play. However, a tactical change may be necessary when Germany take on Spain on Sunday, and perhaps a change of style against Costa Rica in the final.

Goretzka came off the bench Germany And he was served at 1-0 – suggesting Flick may have earned his initial pick after all.

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