Making substitutions is part of football and can either work for or against a team. It is never easy for a footballer to get into a match and make a significant impact from the substitute's bench. Managers usually make substitutions for various reasons.
It could be an injury to one of the on-field players, due to defensive or offensive tactics or simply as a means to wind down the clock if their team is leading. The 2018 FIFA World Cup has given fans a spectacle. It has truly been a tournament of upsets, game-changing decisions facilitated by video technology and a proper footballing showpiece.
Part of what made the World Cup special has been the substitutions made by managers in the hope of positively impacting the match. This was not the case for Sweden's Jimmy Durmaz. He was brought on to weather the German storm but ended up casually tripping Timo Werner in the fourth minute of extra time.
This dangerous free kick, conceded outside the box, had Toni Kroos rifle home the dead ball to give Germany a solid 2-1 comeback win in Group F. However, there are those substitutions that massively paid off. Some of these footballers initially were mere reserve players but grabbed the opportunity by the scruff of its neck.
#3 Keisuke Honda
The versatile Japanese man became the first player from his country to score in three successive World Cup tournaments. Japan head coach Akira Nishino opted to bench Honda for most of their matches.
Nishino gave priority to other younger players in the competition to fill up his midfield and attacking options. Honda, who burst onto the scene with an impressive debut World Cup in 2010, was the hero for Japan against Senegal. On June 24, 2018, Japan faced Senegal in the penultimate Group H round of matches.
Goals by Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague (71st minute) had given the Africans the edge in this match as they led 2-1. Japan needed to grab at least a point from this match to keep their hopes of clinching a last 16 berth alive.
Wague's goal prompted Nishino to bring on Honda barely a minute later. Six minutes into making the switch, Honda scored the equaliser from close range when he capitalised on Senegal's defensive lapse to force a 2-2 draw. Japan went on to qualify for the last 16.