Germany looks to bounce back from shock defeat and revive World Cup hopes against dangerous Spain


If Germany are to avoid the ignominy of back-to-back World Cup group stages, they will need to earn a positive result against Spain, who looked the most dangerous team in the tournament after the opening round.

Finishing last in the group at the Russia 2018 tournament, in which Germany entered as defending champions, was a historic low for the four-time World Cup winners. It was the first time in 80 years that the German national team failed to reach the knockout stages of the tournament.

Now under coach Hansi Flick after Joachim Löw finally stepped down after 15 years in charge, a repeat of that performance in Russia was surely unthinkable.

But after that shock 2-1 loss to Japan in their opener, it is a definite possibility again.

Former national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann accused the German players of thinking they were “going on a cruise” after taking the lead against Japan through İlkay Gündoğan’s first-half penalty.

Germany’s failure to capitalize on their dominance kept Japan in the game and, perhaps most worryingly for the four-time champions, Flick was unable to counter Hajime Moriyasu’s tactical changes that ultimately led to the comeback.

This result means the match against Spain is do-or-die for Germany, as defeat would confirm an early flight home from Qatar. It’s certainly an unwelcome situation for Flick and his men, especially after Spain demolished Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening game.

Is Germany and head coach Hansi Flick's time running out?

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Spaniards’ victory was more down to the unstoppability of Luis Enrique’s men or the terrorizing of the opposition as Costa Rica competes with hosts Qatar for the title of worst team at the World Cup so far.

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Germany will certainly provide a much more accurate indicator of this Spanish side’s chances in Qatar, but the win has understandably sparked serious optimism that this team is a genuine contender.

World Cup team camps have traditionally been somewhat strictly private affairs, but Spain head coach Luis Enrique has taken an unusual approach to spending time behind closed doors.

The 52-year-old, who recently posted a shirtless photo of himself on Instagram in great shape, has been taking part in regular Q&As with fans via streaming service Twitch and has vowed to continue doing so as long as Spain stay involved. competitive.

Enrique even revealed he was happy for the players to have sex during the World Cup – in the past other national team coaches have notoriously banned the squad from engaging in intimate activities.

The atmosphere is certainly good in the Spanish camp, and a win over Germany would secure passage to the round of 16 with a game in hand.

In the second match of Group E, Japan knows that a win over Costa Rica will guarantee it a place in the playoffs.

Samurai Blue produced an all-time great World Cup by beating Germany for the first time in history and will be looking to avoid a positive result going into the final group game against Spain.

Costa Rica, meanwhile, will be playing for pride as much as points against Japan after the Central Americans suffered a humiliating seven-goal defeat against Spain.

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Los Ticos have generally acquitted themselves well at the World Cup stage, the highlight coming during the historic quarter-final in Brazil 2014, and manager Luis Fernando Suárez will be keen to prove that the opening day result was just a bad day at the office.

It’s fair to say that Canada head coach John Herdman’s comments following his team’s 1-0 loss to Belgium did not go down well in Croatia.

When asked what the message to his players had been all along, the Englishman replied that “they belong here”.

“And we’re going to deport Croatia,” he added.

John Herdman's confidence caused a stir in Croatia.

In response to this rising remark, the Croatian newspaper 24 Sata published a mockumentary photo of a naked Herdman on its front page, wearing nothing but a Canadian maple leaf to protect her modesty.

Canada won much of their opener against a leggy-looking Belgium and had a great chance to take an early lead from the penalty spot, but star man Alphonso Davies blocked Thibaut Courtois’ effort.

Belgium then found a breakthrough on the counter-attack thanks to a clinical finish from Michy Batshuayi, and Canada had no answer despite constant pressure.

Croatia, runners-up four years ago, were held to a goalless draw against Morocco in their opening game and will be hoping for a much better performance against the Canadians.

Now 37-year-old captain Luka Modric is likely to play in his final World Cup, and Croatia’s talisman looked off the pace against the North Africans as he came on late for a number of challenges and somehow avoided a yellow card.

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Much of what has made this team such a threat over the years runs through Modric, and the Real Madrid man will need to be at his best for Croatia to replicate what they produced in Russia four years ago.

Belgium will also be looking for a huge improvement on their dismal opening round win against Canada, with the country’s “golden generation” of stars likely to take their last realistic shot at a major competition.

Belgium have arguably the best player in the world in midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, but like the rest of his teammates, the Manchester City star was well below his usual standards against Canada.

However, Morocco look likely to provide another test for Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side.

The team looked compact and organized against Croatia and perhaps even feels like it was a missed opportunity to pick up all three points after creating some great chances.

The Atlas Lions have progressed past the World Cup group stages just once in their history and this team will likely be confident of earning a positive result against Belgium and taking one step towards the 1986 team.

Japan vs. Costa Rica: 5 p.m. ET

Belgium vs. Mexico: 8 a.m. ET

Croatia vs. Canada: 11 a.m. ET

Spain vs. Germany: 2 p.m. ET

USA: Fox Sports


Australia: SBS

Brazil: SportTV

Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom

Canada: Bell Media

South Africa: SABC


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