Japan face Spain on Thursday evening in the final group stage encounter of an eventful World Cup for the Samurai Blue.
Hajime Moriyasu's side followed up their orbit-troubling upset against Germany with a surprise reverse against Costa Rica. Japan still sit second in Group E, one point behind Spain - the only unbeaten team in the group after their draw with Germany.
Japan could qualify with a point if Germany fail to defeat Costa Rica by two goals but a win would cement their spot in the last 16. Spain just need a point to go through. At least two members of the German squad - Antonio Rudiger and David Raum - told their Spanish club-mates to do them a favour and beat Japan but a win would be beneficial for Spain as well, securing first place and a knockout tie against the runners-up of Group F.
Here's everything you need to know about the meeting between these two nations.
Where are Japan vs Spain playing?
- Location: Ar-Rayyan, Qatar
- Stadium: Khalifa International Stadium
- Date: Thursday 1 December
- Kick-off Time: 19:00 GMT / 14:00 ET / 11:00 PT
Japan vs Spain H2H Results (All Time)
- Japan: 0 Wins
- Spain: 1 Win
- Draws: 0
Current Form (Last Five Games)
- Japan: WDLWL
- Spain: LWWWD
Japan team news
Both defenders Hiroki Sakai and Takehiro Tomiyasu sat out Japan's 1-0 defeat to Costa Rica with hamstring issues. Moriaysu made five changes to the starting XI that beat Germany but still switched to a back-three at half-time for the second consecutive match.
Japan predicted lineup vs Spain
Japan Starting 11 (3-4-3): Gonda; Itakura, Yoshida, H Ito; Yamane, Endo, Tanaka, Nagatomo; J Ito, Asano, Kamada.
Bench: Kawashima, Schmidt, Taniguchi, Morita, Shibasaki, Minamino, Maeda, Soma, Kubo, Doan, Machino, Ueda, Mitoma.
Spain team news
Luis Enrique had his entire 26-man squad either on the pitch or the bench against Germany on Sunday night. For the second match in a row, Alvaro Morata scored as a substitute, underlining his case for what would be a first-ever World Cup start.
After starting the first two matches, Enrique may be tempted to rest the 18-year-old Gavi for a match with less jeopardy and bring in Koke, who replaced the teenager in the second half against Germany.
Spain predicted lineup vs Japan
Spain Starting 11 (4-3-3): Simon; Carvajal, Rodri, Laporte, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Koke; F Torres, Morata, Olmo.
Bench: Sanchez, Raya, P Torres, Garcia, Balde, Azpilicueta, Guillamon, Llorente, Gavi, Soler, Fati, Williams, Pino, Sarabia, Asensio.
Japan vs Spain score prediction
Japan's wildly conflicting results at this tournament have befuddled many. Even their own manager is unsure of their significance. “We’ve beaten Germany but it doesn’t mean we can win against Spain. Those countries are World Cup title holders, so we have a lot of respect for them," Moriaysu said before immediately arguing: "But we won a match against Germany. Spain will be tough but there is a good chance for us to win."
One thing to take from Moriyasu's knotted reasoning is that Spain will certainly be tough. Japan have already demonstrated that they can cause problems speeding behind teams that like to keep possession. However, Enrique's high-spec side should be able to muzzle this threat while posing considerable menace themselves.
Prediction: Japan 0-2 Spain
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders and Toby Cudworth to look back on South Korea/Japan '02 as part of the 'Our World Cup' series. We take a trip down memory lane - join us!
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