Day 12 of the FIFA World Cup 2022 saw the group stage exits of European heavyweights Germany and Belgium, as Japan and Morocco emerged surprise group winners.
Much can be highlighted from the matches on the day. Here are some takeaways for our OBSERVER ONLINE readers.
1. Lukaku, the scapegoat again
Romelu Lukaku was deemed ‘nowhere near ready’ by sources after missing the Red Devil’s first two games against Morocco and Canada with a thigh injury. But many will not want to hear that his readiness was the reason for the Inter Milan striker’s failure to capitalise on a hattrick of chances which would have given Belgium a win against Croatia and a Round of 16 berth. The match ended 0-0. After the final whistle, Lukaku left the field in tears.
2. Morocco advance in style
For the first time in 36 years, Morocco have made it to the last 16 at the World Cup, and they did it in style. The Atlas Lions ended the group stage on a high after defeating Canada 2-1, topping the group with 7 points. Meanwhile, this left the North Americans pointless and at the bottom of group F. Morocco will face Spain in the round of 16.
3. Kon’nichiwa, Japan has arrived
In their finest ever World Cup display, Japan booked their place in the knockout stages of the tournament. Japan began their campaign by stunning four-time champions Germany 2-1 and, in the same fashion, came from behind to seal a 2-1 win over 2010 champions Spain. The upshot is that the Samurai Blues have topped a stacked group E with six points and are slated to take on Croatia in the next round.
4. Another one bites the dust
For a second consecutive World Cup, the Germans failed to advance beyond the group stage after a loss to an Asian team. In 2018, it was South Korea, this time around it was Japan who delivered the knockout blow to the football giant.