Nothing was going according to the script in the 70th minute of the games between Japan v/s Spain and Costa Rica v/s Germany.
If time would have stood still at that moment, Japan and Costa Rica would have made it to the knockout stage of the FIFA World Cup from a group that had two world champions, the likes of Spain and Germany.
It was unthinkable that such blasphemy could occur. But the Germans bounced back and won their game against Costa Ricans but were shunned out from the last 16 because of Spain’s horrific loss to the Asian side, eventually bowing out because of inferior goal difference.
Japan has reached the knockout stage with statement victories over two ex-World Cup winners. How did Japan become so gritty? Firstly, have the ruthlessness to score and then defend extensively against two great attacking teams?
There is a theory that is slowly coming to the surface which might have the answers for you. These victories have drawn the attention of football fans to a Japanese manga named Blue Lock written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Yusuke Nomura. The manga was seen trending on Twitter as Japan beat Spain.
But what does Japanese manga have to do with a football performance? The resemblance is uncanny.
Blue Lock is a fictional story that takes place after Japan’s elimination from the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The Japanese Football Union is desperate to perform better at World Cups and appoints a prolific coach named Ego Jinpachi to assemble a super team and create the world’s greatest striker to lead them. He calls this project ‘Blue Lock.’
Upon hearing this news, a young high school player, Yoichi Isagi, decides to join this program to become the best player in the world.
The series seems to have stemmed from Japan’s heartbreaking loss to Belgium in the 2018 World Cup in the round of 16. However, things slowly have taken a turn for the better since Japan’s impeccable performances in Qatar have now forced fans to look at ‘Blue Lock’ as a mirror to Japan’s antics on the pitch.
It seems like some moves that the Japanese players are making on the pitch strike a close resemblance to the plays in Blue Lock. It’s a classic case of reel meets real or in this case, reel inspires real.
The characters in the manga series have abilities to out-muscle and sprint at high speeds to beat the defenders. Similarly, in the game against Spain, the first goal by Ritsu Doan was scored in the same way with his thunderous strike, bringing Japan back into the game.
It gets even more bizarre. Japan’s world cup kit was also made in collaboration with Blue Lock. This only makes anyone question the ties between the reel and the real. There is no stopping Japan at the moment.
Beating two world champions is not an ordinary feat. But with the power of Blue Lock by their side, Japan aims to go all the way to the final of the tournament.