On day eight – Sunday, November 27 – of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Japan vs Costa Rica (Group E): 1pm (10pm GMT), Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Belgium vs Morocco (Group F): 4pm (1pm GMT), Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Croatia vs Canada (Group F): 7pm (4pm GMT), Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Spain vs Germany (Group E): 22:00 (19:00 GMT), Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
What to expect:
Japan vs Costa Rica
Japan and Costa Rica have acknowledged that a win is crucial ahead of their second game at the World Cup on Sunday.
Japan is second in Group E three points behind leaders Spain on goal difference.
The Asian giants now face Costa Rica, with a victory securing them a spot in the knockouts if Germany fail to beat Spain.
Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu has encouraged his players to quickly “forget” their players. opening win against Germany and focus on Sunday’s Group E meeting with Costa Rica.
Their victory over Germany on Wednesday was one of the most surprising results from the first round of group stage matches, with Japan upset the four-time World Cup winners 2-1.
While Moriyasu on Saturday reiterated his view that the game was a “historic victory” for Japan, he insisted that now was not the time to reminisce.
Japan hopes to advance to the Round of 16 for the fourth time in seven World Cup appearances. Their best-ever finish was ninth in both 2002 and 2010.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, is watching regroup after Spain inflicted a crushing 7-0 defeat on them in their opener and they face an uphill – though not mathematically impossible – battle to advance to the Round of 16.
Former Arsenal striker Joel Campbell said: “As long as we have the opportunity to progress, we will have to leave everything on the pitch.”
“Of course it will not be easy, but we are very excited because we can still move on to the next phase and we have to fight for that. Tomorrow we bring our A-game.”
Costa Rica coach Luis Suarez said his team will not repeat the same mistakes they made with Spain against Japan.
“Everyone learns from their mistakes, but you have to be strong to keep going,” Suarez said.
Belgium against Morocco
Morocco were in good spirits as they trained for Sunday’s meeting with Group F leaders Belgium after their game that saw them deadlock Croatia in their opening World Cup match.
Belgium, on the other hand, managed a disappointing 1-0 win against Canada in their first group game, and Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has warned the Belgians should expect a rigorous test at Doha’s Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.
The game will have added some extra spice, as a number of players in the Moroccan squad were born in Belgium or play their club football there.
However, injuries were a problem. Noussair Mazraoui and Achraf Hakimi suffered injuries during the game against Croatia, which saw Mazraoui out on Sunday, while Hakimi took part in Saturday’s training and may be part of Regragui’s line-up.
After the disappointing 1-0 victory over Canada, the Belgian team was back on the training field on Saturday. Manager Roberto Martinez will expect a huge improvement from his players, who were lucky enough to beat Canada thanks to a clinical finish from Michy Batshuayi.
Martinez was unable to rely on strong striker Romelu Lukaku, who missed Canada’s match due to a thigh injury. Although Lukaku is back in training, Martinez has confirmed he may not be ready to start on Sunday.
If Belgium beat Morocco, they would become the first team in World Cup history to win nine consecutive group matches. Belgium is undefeated in all four World Cup meetings with African teams.
Croatia vs Canada
Canada trained in Umm Salal on Saturday, the eve of their crucial World Cup Group F match against Croatia. Canada head coach John Herdman described his squad as “light, crisp and clear, ready to go” in what is effectively a must-win game for the Canucks.
They are currently bottom of the standings after narrowly losing 1-0 to Belgium in their opening game on Wednesday.
The match also marks Canadian skipper Atiba Hutchinson’s 100th appearance for his country.
Croatia drew 0-0 in their opening game against Morocco and Croatia national coach Zlatko Dalia has called on his team to take a more aggressive stance, be more energetic and pick up the pace when they face Canada on Sunday .
Following their tame goalless draw against Morocco on Wednesday, Croatia faced criticism for their lackluster performance, but Dalia said on Saturday he is confident the team’s ‘real face’ will emerge against the Canadians.
“We are Croatia, let’s be honest,” Dalia said. “If we just play our game, we’ll have a positive performance, a positive outcome.”
Spain against Germany
Germany and Spain were training on Saturday ahead of their Sunday showdown, which would see the Germans go out in the first round of the World Cup for the second time in a row if they lose to the Spaniards.
Since Germany’s shock 2-1 defeat to Japan on Wednesday, coach Hansi Flick has been working overtime to get his players off the floor after the opening loss.
Flick’s team have now won just two of their last nine internationals in all competitions and will now look to avoid losing consecutive group stage matches in a World Cup tournament for the first time.
But they have to face a powerful Spanish side that plays with real freedom, as shown by Spain’s 7-0 win over Costa Rica.
Flick had nothing but praise for Spain coach Luis Enrique on Saturday.
“I really enjoy talking to him. He has set up this new young team with young players with fantastic quality,” he said.
For his part, Enrique, who described Germany on Saturday as the team most similar to Spain, said he expected an open game between the two European rivals.
Should Japan avoid defeat to Costa Rica in Sunday’s earlier kick-off, Germany must beat Spain if they want to avoid back-to-back group stage eliminations at the World Cup.