Japan and Spain will battle for maximum points this Thursday at the Khalifa International Stadium, with neither side guaranteed a place in the next round.
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium (Doha)
Japan have failed to score in four of their last ten games.
They have kept five clean sheets in their last ten games.
Japan goalkeeper Shūichi Gonda will be looking for his first clean sheet in ten competitive games and a first-ever at the World Cup.
Spain have lost just one of their last 13 games (W9, D3)
They are the only sides in this World Cup that have managed more than 12 or more build-up attacks of 10+ passes (which subsequently result in a shot or touch in the opposing team’s box).
World Cup trivia: All final-stage World Cup group contests are now played at the same time after the ‘Disgrace in Gijón’ at the 1982 World Cup in Spain, whereby West Germany and Austria appeared to ensure a 1-0 win to the Germans in their final group game which saw them both progress at the expense of Algeria.
Head to head
This match will be the first-ever competitive game between both sides. The last time both sides met was in an International Friendly in 2001. Spain won the game 1-0.
Latest performances in all competitions
After an impressive 2-1 comeback win over Germany in their group stage opener sent shockwaves across the world, Japan came crashing down back to earth last time out as they were beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica.
The Samurai Blue were considered favourites going into that game, given that they faced a side that had been beaten 7-0 by Spain before the game. But was followed was an uninspiring performance that saw both sides fail to register a shot on target in the first half.
That defeat was their first-ever defeat to the Central Americans (W3, D1), leaving them sitting second in Group E. They now know that a win here is their only guaranteed way of emulating their round of 16 appearance in 2018, whilst defeat would see them automatically eliminated.
It won’t be easy against a Spain side who are already the top-scoring side in the World Cup this year after two rounds of games. But having already beaten Germany this campaign, they will fancy their chances of getting a result here.
Possible Japan starting lineup
Shuichi Gonda, Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Ko Itakura, Yuto Nagatomo, Wataru Endo, Hidemasa Morita, Ritsu Doan, Daichi Kamada, Takefusa Kubo, Daizen Maeda.
Despite not being guaranteed a place in the next round, Spain is closer to qualification than other teams in Group E.
The 2010 winners are looking to record two group stage wins in a single edition for the first time since their triumphant 2010 campaign in South Africa.
La Roja can now smell the group-stage finishing line after Sunday’s 1-1 draw to Germany means they now need just a point to progress.
Even a shock defeat to FIFA’s 28th-ranked side would still give them a decent chance of reaching the knock-outs, thanks partly to their superior goal difference accumulated in their famous 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica.
Having lost just once in their last 13 games, they will fancy their chances of recording a win that will see them finish top of this group.
Possible Spain starting lineup
Unai Simón, Daniel Carvajal, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Gavi, Pedri, Ferrán Torres, Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo.
|Japan to win||Draw||Spain to win|
Japan 1-1 Spain