Spain And Germany Firm Favourites to Move Forward


The 2022 FIFA World Cup Group E has Germany, Spain, Japan and Costa Rica with the group phase being played from 20 November to 2 December.

Germany

After a disappointing campaign in 2018 World Cup, Germany are looking to bounce back in the mega FIFA event under the guidance of Hansi Flick. The Germans are desperate to get another coveted trophy in their cabinet. Looking at their recent performances in Euros 2022 and UEFA Nations League, Germany have not been able to play to their full potential. However, they have begun their transitional phase after Joachim Low’s 15-year reign. Flick is instilling a ruthless approach in the German team which he developed in Bayern Munich during his tenure.

Flick got the liberty of having players like Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich, whom he has worked with earlier at Bayern. The 57-year-old is known for his consistency in picking same squad selection.

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Germany lacked a world-class striker in the line-up and Timo Werner is also out of the World Cup owing to an ankle injury. However, despite lacking a top-class striker and overseeing a rebuilding project in charge of Germany, Flick has lost just one of his 15 matches in charge.

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Barcelona), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Defenders: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Antonio Ruediger (Real Madrid), Niklas Suele (Borussia Dortmund), Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund), Thilo Kehrer (West Ham United), David Raum (RB Leipzig), Lukas Klostermann, Armel Bella Kotchap (Southampton), Christian Guenter (Freiburg).

Midfielders: Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City), Jonas Hofmann (Borussia Moenchengladbach), Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Mueller (all Bayern Munich), Julian Brandt (Borussia Dortmund), Mario Goetze (Eintracht Frankfurt).

Spain

Luis Enrique made massive changes to the side and adopted the shades of tiki-taka football to rebuild a new team. Post Xavi-Iniesta era was always going to be difficult for Spain but in Euros last year they found a new prodigy in Pedri who ran the show on his own. He was named the Young Player of the tournament as he completed the tournament with an extraordinary 421/461 pass rate.

Enrique is trying to emulate the success of Vicente del Bosque but he doesn’t have stars like the 2010 Spanish side where they had Xavi and Iniesta to control the midfield, Sergio Ramos, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique to hold the defence, David Villa and Fernando Torres to put the ball past the net and a Wall in form of Iker Casillas to save the goal. The Spanish manager didn’t shy away from making the tough calls as he didn’t pick the likes of Sergio Ramos, David de Gea and Thiago Alcantara in the squad.

The new-age Spanish side lacks such stars but they have the quality to light up Qatar with their attractive possession-based football which grabbed attention during Euros 2020 and UEFA Nations League 2020–21.

Goalkeepers: Unai Simon (Athletic Club), Robert Sanchez (Brighton & Hove Albion), David Raya (Brentford FC).

Defenders: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea FC), Dani Carvajal (Real Madrid), Eric Garcia (FC Barcelona), Hugo Guillamon (Valencia CF), Pau Torres (Villarreal CF), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City), Jordi Alba (FC Barcelona), Jose Gaya (Valencia CF).

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets (FC Barcelona), Rodri Hernandez (Manchester City), Gavi (FC Barcelona), Carlos Soler (Paris St Germain), Marcos Llorente (Atletico de Madrid), Pedri Gonzalez (FC Barcelona), Koke Resurreccion (Atletico de Madrid).

Forwards: Ferran Torres (FC Barcelona), Nico Williams (Athletic Club), Yeremi Pino (Villarreal CF), Alvaro Morata (Atletico de Madrid), Marco Asensio (Real Madrid), Pablo Sarabia (Paris St Germain), Dani Olmo (RB Leipzig), Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona).

Japan

The Asian team found themselves in probably the toughest group in the 2022 Qatar World Cup. They finished second behind Saudi Arabia in Group B in the third round of Asian qualifying. Japan managed to qualify for the round of 16 in the last edition of the mega tournament, but this time it won’t be easy for them to get there with mega European giants like Germany and Spain already in their squad. Manager Hajime Moriyasu has been an inspirational figure in the Japanese squad. He took Japan to the final of the Asian Cup six months after his appointment. Also served as Japan’s Olympic manager at the Tokyo Games and took the team to the semi-finals, only to miss out on a medal.

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Wataru Endo is the gumshield-wearing midfield lynchpin who holds Japan together. A non-playing member of the squad in 2018, Endo won the AFC Champions League with Urawa Red Diamonds before moving to Europe.

Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse), Daniel Schmidt (Sint-Truidense).

Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Tokyo), Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04), Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Hiroki Ito (Stuttgart).

Midfielders: Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes), Wataru Endo (Stuttgart), Junya Ito (Reims), Takumi Minamino (Monaco), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting CP), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), Ritsu Doan (Freiburg), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad).

Forwards: Takuma Asano (Bochum), Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare).

Costa Rica

The 31-ranked side qualified for the Qatar World Cup after New Zealand 1-0 in a CONCACAF-Oceania playoff. They advanced to playoff after finishing fourth in CONCACAF qualifiers behind Canada, Mexico and the United States. Luis Fernando Suarez is best known for leading Ecuador to their best ever showing at a World Cup, when they reached the last 16 at the 2006 finals only to be eliminated by England after a David Beckham free-kick in a 1-0 defeat. The manager will look to emulate something special with Costa Rica squad in Qatar this year.

Keylor Navas is an inspirational figure in the squad as he won everything at club-level football during his time at Real Madrid. The goalkeeper still got the reflexes to stop the best of shots.

Goalkeepers: Keylor Navas (Paris St Germain), Esteban Alvarado (Herediano), Patrick Sequeira (CD Lugo).

Defenders: Francisco Calvo (Konyaspor), Juan Pablo Vargas (Millonarios FC), Kendall Waston (Saprissa), Oscar Duarte (Al-Wehda), Daniel Chacon (Colorado Rapids), Keysher Fuller (Herediano), Carlos Martinez (San Carlos), Bryan Oviedo (Real Salt Lake), Ronald Matarrita (Cincinnati).

Midfielders: Yeltsin Tejeda (Herediano), Celso Borges (Alajuelense), Youstin Salas (Saprissa), Roan Wilson (Grecia), Gerson Torres (Herediano), Douglas Lopez (Herediano) Jewisson Bennette (Sunderland), Alvaro Zamora (Saprissa), Anthony Hernandez (Puntarenas FC), Brandon Aguilera (Nottingham Forest), Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense).

Forwards: Joel Campbell (Leon), Anthony Contreras (Herediano) Johan Venegas (Alajuelense).

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