The final matchday in Group E of the 2022 FIFA World Cup sees Germany taking on Costa Rica at the Al Bayt Stadium with a spot in the round of 16 up for grabs. Germany left it late against Spain, eventually scoring the equalizer thanks to a Niclas Fullkrug goal in the 83rd minute to secure a point and keep their qualification hopes alive. The 1-1 draw means that the Germans, who were minutes away from being sent home early against the Spanish, now have a very achievable path into the knockout stages. A win against Costa Rica coupled with a Spain victory against Japan sees Hansi Flick’s team through. Should the Germans win and Spain fall to a defeat then they would have to overturn an eight goal difference deficit to pip Spain to second-place. Lastly, Germany would need to win by two or more goals should Spain and Japan draw in order to beat out the Japanese for second-place.
Costa Rica upset the odds by recording a 1-0 victory against Japan in matchday two, scoring with their only shot on target in the match. They now, amazingly, have a path not only to qualify from the group but to even finish as group winners, something that would have seemed almost impossible after their heavy 7-0 defeat to Spain in the opening match. A win for Los Ticos sees them into the final 16, and they can do so as group winners should Spain and Japan also draw. Costa Rica can even qualify with a draw, assuming Spain beat Japan in their match. A loss sees Costa Rica sent home as well as both of the remaining Group E matches finishing level.
Credit must go to manager Luis Fernando Suarez and his Costa Rica side for responding to the country’s joint-heaviest ever defeat with a gritty win against a high-flying Japan team. The 62-year-old opted to deploy his team in a five at the back formation which successfully stifled the Japanese attack. Suarez may well opt for a similar approach against a German team expected to hold the ball for long stretches of time. He’ll have to deal with the absence of defender Francisco Calvo after receiving a second yellow card in the win over Japan.
For the Germans, manager Hansi Flick’s side showed excellent determination and will as they faced down the real possibility of being sent home in the group stages for a second consecutive World Cup. The hero of the moment Niclas Fullkrug will be pushing for a start here while the return of winger Leroy Sane to the starting 11 should provide some extra flair and directness for Die Mannschaft.
Germany will be hoping that their dramatic late equalizer against Spain can serve as a catalyst for an improved performance going forward. There is clearly an immense amount of talent in this German squad but the results haven’t quite been there for Flick’s men in the past six months. With that being said, there is a massive talent gap between these two sides and Germany will have only themselves to blame should they fail to qualify for the round of 16. With the current situation in the group, Die Mannschaft will likely implement a heavily attacking mentality right from kickoff as they could be looking at a scenario in which they need to beat Costa Rica by multiple goals to overtake Japan in goal difference. For that reason, Germany to be leading at half time and fulltime is our pick for this matchup.
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