Hansi Flick sat in the stands in Hoffenheim and followed the Bundesliga duel between VfL Bochum and the local TSG. Back then on the pitch for Bochum: Takuma Asano, VfL striker and Japanese international.
It is not known whether Flick also came because of him, in order to analyze the group opponents and identify possible strengths seven months before the World Cup in Qatar.
However, he may not have really liked what he saw from Asano against this possible background: The Japanese secured a brace for his team’s away win.
The national coach was even less likely to like what happened after the game: the 28-year-old was asked by the ZDF reporter if he knew a certain Hansi Flick.
He replied with a laugh: “Hansi Frick? What is that?” It is still unclear whether this statement was actually meant as a joke at the time or whether Asano Flick really did not know it at the time.
After all, the Japanese can be credited with the fact that Flick was no longer the coach of FC Bayern Munich last season and that Asano had at least not yet been able to meet him on the pitch. Asano only switched to Bochum in the summer of 2021.
The emergence of the winning goal was already indicated seven months ago
But at least Flick already knew the Japanese in April of this year and should have been warned after his two goals at the latest. But not only because of the two hits themselves, but above all because of the origin.
In principle, Asano’s goals from April against Hoffenheim and the goal against Germany shortly before the end are very similar. In the Bundesliga, the Japanese was always sent by his goalkeeper Manuel Riemann with a long ball, played his pace, was not really attacked and scored.
The picture was the same in Germany’s 2-1 defeat by Japan on Wednesday, except that the long ball was not fired forward by the Japanese goalkeeper but by Ko Itakura from a free-kick wide of his own half. Asano took the ball down technically with a touch, hung Nico Schlotterbeck, who was only providing escort anyway, and placed the ball high in the near corner.
Japan’s national coach Hajime Moriyasu later spoke of a tactical trick that ultimately brought his team victory. At half-time, the 54-year-old decided to substitute a central defender for a striker despite being 1-0 down in the first half.
“We knew we had to focus more on defence. That’s why I changed the system. The players immediately knew what I meant by that and how they should behave,” said Moriyasu.
Lucky for him that he finally showed a golden touch with the offensive changes from Ritsu Doan, who also plays in the Bundesliga (SC Freiburg) and scored the equalizer against Germany, and Asano and was able to celebrate Japan’s victory.
Asano also celebrated after the winning goal, but he didn’t spare a look for Flick when cheering. He sat dumbfounded on the bench and may have wondered if Asano knows him by now. But maybe he just thought that he should have prepared his defensive line around Niklas Süle and Schlotterbeck better for Bochum.
In any case, the users on social media were prepared for Asano’s goal and provided the appropriate video material during the game. This went viral despite the fact that it’s seven months old. VfL Bochum also congratulated their player on the goal and Japan’s victory. A goal that put Germany in an extremely difficult position after the first group game.