Video footage of Antonio Rudiger’s unconventional defending during Japan’s third goal against Germany is making rounds on social media.
In a surprising turn of events, the Real Madrid defender played the entire 90 minutes as the four-time world champions suffered a shocking 4-1 defeat on their home soil over the weekend.
The sequence began with Junya Ito giving Japan a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. Leroy Sane managed to level the scores shortly after, but Japan swiftly reclaimed their one-goal advantage when Ayase Ueda slotted the ball past Germany’s goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen from close range.
Germany failed to equalize and, instead, conceded two more goals just before the final whistle. Takefusa Kubo, the winger who was formerly with Real Madrid and currently plays for Real Sociedad, exploited some subpar defending, breaking away from his own half before setting up Takuma Asano for an easy tap-in.
Kubo then notched his second assist of the evening moments later, crossing for Ao Tanaka to head past the despairing Ter Stegen. This was, without question, a humiliating defeat for Germany, whose head coach Hansi Flick now finds himself under serious pressure.
The 58-year-old, who was previously in charge of Bayern Munich before landing the Germany job in 2021, admitted he was “brutally disappointed” following the heavy friendly loss, but insists he is still the “right manager” for Die Mannschaft, perBBC Sport.
Germany’s captain, Ilkay Gundogan, expressed his disappointment to reporters following the match, saying, “We are not good enough right now; it’s a completely bitter day. We all need to ask questions of ourselves.” Midfielder Joshua Kimmich also commented on the defeat, stating, “The bottom line is that it was a well-deserved defeat. We had nothing up front in the second half. We haven’t actually played a good game since the World Cup. This has to give us pause, and we have to question our quality.”
Speculation is running rampant regarding the potential replacement of Germany’s manager, Hansi Flick, in the coming days, although he may still lead the team in Tuesday night’s friendly against World Cup finalists France. Rudi Voller, Germany’s director of football, described the 4-1 loss to Japan as “a disgrace.” Given this performance, it wouldn’t be surprising if a new manager is appointed soon with the aim of revitalizing the team ahead of next summer’s European Championships.
Video: Rudiger’s bizarre defending vs Japan goes viral
Antonio Rudiger’s questionable “defending,” if it can be called that, on Japan’s first goal is indeed a topic of discussion. The experienced 30-year-old center-back inexplicably delayed his sprint back after his teammate Robin Gosens lost possession. Meanwhile, Takefusa Kubo broke away with speed, and rather curiously, Rudiger remained stationary, almost as if he was watching the play unfold.
Only after a couple of seconds did the former Chelsea defender make a half-hearted attempt to run back, but at that point, it was too late. The energetic Kubo passed the ball to Takuma Asano, who calmly slotted it into an unguarded net. The video of this incident has since gone viral on social media, leaving many football fans puzzled about Rudiger’s actions during that crucial moment.
Watch Rudiger delay his sprint back very strange. pic.twitter.com/nnskD55nrM
— TheSecretScout (@TheSecretScout_) September 9, 2023
It’s hard to work out what was going through Rudiger’s head as Kubo initially broke away. Was he simply feeling too tired to sprint back? Moments before receiving the ball, the defender was seen with his hands on his knees, suggesting he may have been struggling.
While some football fans believe exhaustion was to blame for the curious incident, others believe Rudiger’s “extremely suspicious” defending is clear evidence that Germany’s stars aren’t playing for Flick anymore and want the manager gone.