Japan has both caused and suffered a World Cup disruption and must now beat Spain to qualify for the last 16.
Who: Spain vs Japan, group E
Where: Khalifa International Stadium
When: Thursday, December 1, 10:00 PM (7:00 PM GMT)
FIFA Ranking: Spain (7), Japan (24)
Japan has been an unpredictable team in this tournament so far. They unexpectedly defeated Germany in their first game, but then lost to Costa Rica, who everyone expected them to beat.
The Samurai Blue, who are currently tied with Costa Rica, must beat Spain if they want to guarantee their spot in the last 16. They can still qualify with a draw, but this result depends on the result in the group’s other match. , between Germany and Costa Rica.
Spain automatically qualifies in case of a draw or a win. If they lose and the other game ends in a victory for Germany or Costa Rica, Spain will not qualify.
La Roja was imperious in their first game against Costa Rica, beating them 7-0 with six different players coming on the scoresheet. They then played a high quality 1-1 draw against Germany at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.
The two teams only ever played each other in a friendly match in 2001, which Spain won 1–0.
No major changes are expected for either team, although Álvaro Morata could start for Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio after scoring in Spain’s first two games.
The teams that advance from Group E will play against Morocco, Belgium or Croatia in the next round.
Both Japan and Spain were eliminated in the Round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup: Japan were beaten 3-2 by Belgium, while Spain went to hosts Russia on penalties.
They will both want to move on in 2022 – Spain are pushing for a repeat of their 2010 World Cup victory – but the two sides face an impending test first, against each other.