With the last round of group games this week in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Japan will lock horns with Luis Enrique’s impressive Spain side in a Group E clash at the Khalifa International Stadium in tonight’s fixture.
Only one(1) game between the two teams, won by Spain 1-0 in 2001. Spain has never lost in five previous FIFA World Cup matches against Asian opposition.
Spain control their own destiny and also that of Germany in their final Group E match against Japan, but Koke insists La Roja are not paying any mind to the wider consequences of a potential victory.
Luis Enrique’s men only need a point to make sure of their place in the last 16, while a win over Samurai Blue at the Khalifa International Stadium will ensure they go through as group winners.
The latter outcome on Thursday would suit Germany down to the ground, as Die Nationalelf – who face Costa Rica simultaneously – can clinch a spot in the next round if they win and Japan loses. If Spain are held and Hansi Flick’s men win, goal difference will come into play for the 2014 champions.
There is undoubtedly a perception that Germany crashing out would be good for Spain in the long run, given La Roja’s designs on winning the tournament.
The odds are stacked firmly against Japan for this game. If they are to get the result they require to go through, Samurai Blue will presumably need to be effective defensively.
However, At the back, Japan will look to the experienced Yoshida, who was excellent on matchday one. And he could be particularly key if Alvaro Morata comes into the Spain starting XI after scoring against Germany.
Yoshida won five of his six duels last time out and also plays a key role in Japan building out from the back, as he recorded 122 touches against Costa Rica – Wataru Endo (113) was the only other Japan player to register more than 83.