World Cup 2022: Takeaways from Matchday 12

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.

Belgium's Romelu Lukaku reacts after missing a chance to score during the World Cup group F football match between Croatia and Belgium at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar, Thursday, December 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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.

Morocco players throw their head coach Walid Regragui in air as they celebrate at the end of the World Cup group F football match between Canada and Morocco at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha , Qatar, Thursday, December 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

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.

Japan fans celebrate after defeating Spain 2-1 during the World Cup group E football match between Japan and Spain, at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar, Thursday, December 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

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.

Germany's Kai Havertz, left, and Germany's Mario Goetze react after the World Cup group E soccer match between Costa Rica and Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor , Qatar, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

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.

Athena Clarke and Diwani Masters , OBSERVER Online reporters

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