Japan will look to book their place in the next round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup when they play Costa Rica at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium.
Venue: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (Al Rayyan)
Japan have kept six clean sheets from their last seven games.
They conceded over one goal in just one of their last 27 games.
Costa Rica haven’t conceded two or more goals in back-to-back games since June 2021.
Costa Rica’s 7-0 defeat to Spain is the biggest margin of defeat at the World Cup since Portugal beat North Korea by the same scoreline in 2010.
They have lost just one of their last six games.
Head to head
Costa Rica has failed to win any of the five H2H meetings (D1, L4) while conceding three goals in all those losses.
Latest performances in all competitions
Costa Rica: L-W-W-D-W
After shocking the football world by springing a surprise win over one of the title favourites Germany, Japan will look to make it two in a row when they take on Costa Rica on Sunday.
Japan came into the game against the Germans as huge underdogs, and after a few minutes, the gulf in difference between both sides was laid bare. Hansi Flick’s team outplayed the Japanese pinging delicate passes around the Khalifa International Stadium but could not find a way past a disciplined Japanese back-line and a pressing system which allowed their danger men little space to work their magic.
But the breakthrough came for Germany in the 33rd minute when Ilkay Gündogan converted from the spot as the first half ended with the European side in the lead.
However, a flurry of changes in the second half by both sides changed the game’s dynamics. Ritsu Doan started the comeback just four minutes after being subbed on with an equaliser in the 75th minute, and fellow substitute Takuma Asano completed the comeback eight minutes later.
Japan went top of Group E with their shock win over Germany, albeit temporarily, with Spain having deposed them with an emphatic win over Costa Rica to prove their credentials as Group E favourites.
Nonetheless, head coach Hajime Moriyasu will be keen to see his side pick up yet another win over Costa Rica to return to the top spot and ensure that the pressure is on Spain, who will take on Germany later in the day.
The previous meetings between both sides ended in victories for the Asian country, albeit in a friendly game. Yet, the Japanese side will fancy their chances of getting a good result against the Central American country.
Possible Japan starting line-up
Shuichi Gonda, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Maya Yoshida, Ko Itakura, Yuto Nagatomo, Wataru Endo, Ao Tanaka, Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Takumi Minamino, Takuma Asano.
Costa Rica gave Spain the benefit of putting on arguably the best performance of the World Cup so far.
Luis Fernando Suárez and his boys faced off against the Spanish side at Al Thumama Stadium, with the whole world watching on as they were carved apart time and again with laser-like precision by Luis Enrique’s side.
Dani Olmo started the rout with a simple finish in the eleventh minute, following a fine team move and a defensive lapse by the Costa Ricans defenders. Two more goals followed in the first half courtesy of Marco Asensio and a Ferran Torres penalty.
The second half was not much different as the Spanish side continued the rout, with Ferran Torres grabbing his second of the night, capitalising on another defensive error.
Golden boy winner Pablo Gavi capped off an excellent World Cup debut performance with a beautiful volley in the 75th minute to put Spain five-nil up. Further goals from Alvaro Morata and Carles Soler left head coach Luis Fernando Suarez with many questions to ask of his defence, who crumbled easily under pressure from Spain.
However, the loss to Spain may be the catalyst for subsequent success in this tournament, as it allowed the head coach to reassess his team and make necessary changes. The gaffer will be keen to see his boys make up to the thousands of Costa Ricans both at home in Qatar for a humiliating loss by picking up maximum points against the Japanese.
But, to win over a cohesive Japanese side will demand both psychological and technical skill, and it is incumbent on Luiz Suarez to prepare his boys for the showdown with the Asians to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Possible Costa Rica starting line-up
Keylor Navas, Carlos Martínez, Oscar Duarte, Francisco Calvo, Bryan Oviedo, Keysher Fuller, Yeltsin Ignacio Tejeda, Celso Borges, Jewison Bennette, Joel Campbell, Anthony Contreras.
|Japan to win||Draw||Costa Rica to win|
Japan 2-1 Costa Rica