Four games are scheduled on day eight — Sunday, November 27 — of the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Japan vs Costa Rica (Group E): 1pm (10:00 GMT), Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
Belgium vs Morocco (Group F): 4pm (13:00 GMT), Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor
Croatia vs Canada (Group F): 7pm (16:00 GMT), Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
Spain vs Germany (Group E): 10pm (19:00 GMT), Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
What to expect:
Japan vs Costa Rica
Japan and Costa Rica have acknowledged that a win is crucial ahead of their second match at the World Cup on Sunday.
Japan are second in Group E with three points, behind leaders Spain on goal difference.
The Asian giants now face bottom-placed Costa Rica, with a victory assuring them of a spot in the knockouts if Germany fail to win against Spain.
Japan’s manager Hajime Moriyasu has encouraged his players to quickly “forget” their opening win against Germany and focus on Sunday’s Group E encounter with Costa Rica.
Their victory over Germany on Wednesday was one of the most surprising results from the first round of group-stage games, with Japan upsetting the four-time World Cup winners 2-1.
While Moriyasu repeated his view on Saturday that the match was a “historic victory” for Japan, he insisted now was not the time for reminiscing.
Japan are hoping to advance to the Round of 16 for the fourth time in seven appearances in the World Cup. Their best-ever finish was ninth in both 2002 and 2010.
Costa Rica, meanwhile, are looking to regroup after Spain handed them a crushing 7-0 defeat in their opener and they face an uphill — though not mathematically impossible — battle to advance to the Round of 16.
Former Arsenal forward Joel Campbell said: “As long as we have the possibility to progress we will need to leave everything on the pitch.”
“It won’t be easy of course, but we are very excited because we can still progress to the next phase and we need to fight for that. We will bring our A-game tomorrow.”
Costa Rica coach Luis Suarez said his team will not repeat the same mistakes as with Spain against Japan.
”Everyone learns from their mistakes, but you need to be strong to keep on going,” Suarez said.
Belgium vs Morocco
Morocco were in good spirits as they trained ahead of meeting Group F leaders Belgium on Sunday, following their match where they held Croatia to a deadlock in their opening World Cup game.
Belgium, on the other hand, secured an underwhelming 1-0 win against Canada in their first group game, and Morocco head coach Walid Regragui has warned that the Belgians should expect a stern test at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on Sunday.
The match will have added spice as a number of players in the Morocco squad were either born in Belgium or play their club football there.
Injury has been an issue, however. Noussair Mazraoui and Achraf Hakimi sustained injuries in the Croatia game, ruling Mazraoui out of Sunday’s match, while Hakimi joined Saturday training and may feature in Regragui’s lineup.
Following the underwhelming 1-0 win over Canada, the Belgian team were back on the training pitch on Saturday. Manager Roberto Martinez will expect a vast improvement from his players, who were fortunate to beat Canada courtesy of a clinical finish from Michy Batshuayi.
Martinez was unable to call upon powerful forward Romelu Lukaku, who missed the Canada game due to a thigh injury. Although Lukaku is back in training, Martinez has confirmed that he might not be ready to start on Sunday.
If Belgium beat Morocco, they will become the first team in World Cup history to win nine consecutive group games. Belgium are unbeaten in all four of their World Cup meetings with African teams.
Croatia vs Canada
Canada trained in Umm Salal on Saturday, the eve of their pivotal World Cup Group F match against Croatia. Canada head coach John Herdman described his squad as “light, bright and clear, ready to go” into what effectively is a ‘must-win’ game for the Canucks.
They currently lie at the bottom of the standings after the narrow 1-0 defeat to Belgium in their opening fixture on Wednesday.
The game will also mark Canada skipper Atiba Hutchinson’s 100th appearance for his country.
Croatia drew their opener against Morocco 0-0, and Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalia has called on his team to adopt a more aggressive attitude, be more energetic and raise the tempo when they face Canada on Sunday.
Following their tame goalless draw with Morocco on Wednesday, Croatia were criticised for their lacklustre performance, but Dalia said on Saturday that he is confident the ‘real face’ of the team will come to the fore against the Canadians.
“We are Croatia, let’s face it,” Dalia said. “If we just play our game, we will have a positive performance, a positive outcome.”
Spain vs Germany
Germany and Spain were in training on Saturday ahead of their Sunday showdown, with the Germans facing a second consecutive World Cup first-round exit should they lose to the Spanish.
Since Germany’s shock 2-1 defeat to Japan on Wednesday, coach Hansi Flick has been working overtime to pick his players up off the floor after the opener loss.
Flick’s team have now won just two of their last nine internationals across all competitions and they will now seek to avoid losing successive group-stage games at a World Cup tournament for the first time.
But they are up against a powerful Spanish side playing with real freedom, as exemplified by Spain’s 7-0 hammering of Costa Rica.
Flick had nothing but praise for Spain coach Luis Enrique on Saturday.
“I really like talking to him. He’s set up this new young team with young players with a fantastic quality,” he said.
For his part, Enrique, who on Saturday described Germany as the team that was the most similar to Spain, said he expected an open contest between the two European rivals.
Should Japan avoid defeat against Costa Rica in the earlier kickoff on Sunday, Germany must beat Spain if they wish to avoid back-to-back group-stage eliminations at the World Cup.
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