DOHA, Qatar (AP) — When the World Cup draw came out in April, one of the highlights of the group stage was Spain vs. Germany on Sunday at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Eight months later, the match between the two former world champions and pre-tournament favorites gained even more prominence thanks to Germany’s upset loss to Japan. on his debut in Qatar.
Another setback against Spain this weekend and Germany can return home early for the second World Cup in a row. A loss, along with at least a draw for Japan against Costa Rica early on Sunday, will mean elimination for the four-time champions.
Meanwhile, Spain will be looking to secure their place in the next stage and bolster their status as one of the main title contenders after an impressive 7-0 rout. from Costa Rica at its premiere.
The signs are not encouraging for Germany. Their most recent game against Spain was an embarrassing 6-0 defeat in the Nations League two years ago. His last victory against “La Roja” came in a friendly eight years ago.
Germany won their fourth World Cup title in 2014 in Brazil, but failed to make it out of the group stage in 2018 after losses to South Korea and Mexico. It would be the first time they have failed to advance beyond the group stage in back-to-back tournaments.
Spain won its only World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and was eliminated in the round of 16 in 2018 in Russia. A victory against Germany will allow Spain to reach the round of 16 if Costa Rica does not defeat Japan.
The expectations around the young Spanish team increased after their outstanding performance against Costa Rica, when the team reintroduced the “tiki-taka” style of ball possession and Gavi, 18, became the youngest goalscorer in the World Cup since Pelé in 1958.
The seven goals he scored against Costa Rica equaled Spain’s total in the tournament in Russia in 2018.
“The result gives us a great boost,” said Spain coach Luis Enrique. “But now we have to play against a team from Germany that needs to win.”
Luis Enrique said he was not worried that his young players were too confident and promised to make changes to the starting lineup for Sunday’s game, without elaborating.
Winger Leroy Sané could return to Germany after missing the game against Japan with a knee injury.
It will be the fifth meeting between the powerhouses at the World Cups, with Spain winning the most recent 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament.
Spain has not lost to Germany in official competitions since Euro 1988, with two draws and three wins since then.
The Germans have lost three of their last four World Cup matches dating back to the tournament in Russia.
They made headlines even before kickoff against Japan by covering their mouths. to protest FIFA’s crackdown on “One Love” armbands. It was not clear if they would repeat the gesture before the Spain game.
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