Japan running back Masahiro Ishino fights for more yardage in Japan's 24-14 victory over Germany in the inaugural Germany-Japan Bowl at ESPRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Football returned to ESPRIT Arena in Düsseldorf, Germany, in primetime on Saturday, April 24, when two of the world's top senior national teams - Germany and Japan - met in a historical trans-continental matchup before a television audience spanning Europe and Asia.
Japan bolstered its reputation as the top football power outside of North America with a 24-14 victory.
The inaugural Germany-Japan Bowl was telecast by Eurosport 2 and drew more than 11,000 fans, shattering the previous German national team exhibition game attendance record (5,700 in 1997).
Germany placed third in the 2007 IFAF Senior World Championship. Japan, a two-time IFAF Senior World Champion, finished second to the United States that year, which was USA Football's first national team. The next IFAF Senior World Championship will be played in 2011 in Austria.
The European and Asian powers had never met previously on the senior level. Their U19 national teams did face off in an IFAF Junior World Championship quarterfinal in Canton, Ohio, last summer with Japan prevailing 10-7. The Germany-Japan Bowl in Düsseldorf marked the first time either country had played an exhibition against a national team from another continent. The game will be played as a series every four years with rotating home-field advantage.
With most of the final stats turning out fairly even, the difference can be attributable to turnovers.
After tying the score at 7-7 in the first quarter with a touchdown by defensive back Mario Schmitt on a return of a blocked Japanese field goal attempt, Germany put together a drive to the red zone in the second quarter only to have quarterback Joachim Ullrich picked off in the end zone by Koki Kato. Japan then drove for a field goal to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at half.
Germany punted on their first possession of the second half, followed by a lost fumble and interception on their second and third drives. Both turnovers gave Japan the ball inside the red zone, resulting in two touchdown passes by Tetsuo Takata pushing Japan's lead to 24-7. Germany would round out the scoring with a rushing touchdown by Jerome Morris in the fourth quarter.
The German team now begins preparations for the European Championship in three months as both squads look forward to the potential of their first tournament matchup in next year's 2011 IFAF Senior World Championship.