Japan swept their World Cup rivals Australia and New Zealand 2023. It was the peak moment. The quarter-finalists against Sweden had a double vision: to reach the semi-finals, which for them would be the least they could ask for (they’re a powerhouse, they were already world champions in Germany in 2011, when they beat the USA), and the other option is to return to The house is empty-handed. The latter is what happened and the pain was reflected in tears like two players Maika Hamano, who looked nervous, though was supported by her rival, Jonah Anderson, in a poignant sports gesture.
One of the title favorites has sadly ended its journey. And not for less. Nobody wants to lose, but when a favorite leaves early, the impact is much greater. His path began with a 5-0 victory over Zambia. They did not speculate. From the very first match, the declaration of intent was very clear. There are teams that, in football slang, are often said to be “practice”. They have the ability, but they go step by step, fueling the pace and managing the resources.
However, Japan decided to show its entire arsenal from day one. The second match showed it again: 2-0 against Costa Rica. In that match, the Japanese team was not as overwhelming as usual, but it was enough for them to put the utmost seriousness into two high-speed attacks to liquidate Costa Rica’s hopes. And that vertical smiled at them again days later, when they measured forces with another big group of the group: Spain. The Iberians also showed their strength against Zambia and Costa Rica, so this game has been interpreted as a clash of giants. Japan confirmed the hierarchy and crushed 4-0 in the Red.
For those things football has, today that result is no longer useful from its record in the history books: Japan were eliminated, and Spain, after beating current runners-up Netherlands, won a historic ticket to the semi-finals of the hand. to Salma Baralelo. Who would have thought that it was better to stay in second place, as Spain did, than to go first and lead fate to a confrontation with Sweden?
But no one can guess. And even less so after watching the last 16, as Japan once again displayed a compendium of talent, pace and discipline that astound the world. They beat Norway 3-1. It was another page in the great book they were building. Sweden, as it should be, is a competitor worthy of respect, especially after it left the United States out of the tournament.the favorites par excellence (they have four world championships, although precisely in 2011 they lost to Japan in the final, which was the pinnacle of the victory of the Japanese in the Women’s World Cup finals). But there was no way to hide the obvious: The Japanese were the big favourites.
Miyazawa, Yuki and Tanaka’s team will have to go home with an empty backpack, but with the certainty that can accompany them for the next four years: they are the best team to develop a game idea. It is not a minor issue, and it never will be. In such a short tournament, mistakes are punished to the maximum and Japan understands it in the worst way. Two negligence in defence, a poor marking and an avoidable penalty, were enough to give up their place in the semifinals to Sweden. The story does not end here. Today they have to leave in pain, but they will return and their football will remain a heritage for the whole world.
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