Who could Spain face in the World Cup knockout stages?

James Cormack
Spain celebrate Alvaro Morata's opener against Germany
Spain celebrate Alvaro Morata's opener against Germany / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Their 7-0 thumping of Costa Rica saw Luis Enrique's Spain garner universal acclaim in the footballing sphere. Playing a brand of football rarely seen on the international stage, their performance had many questioning why they weren't more bullish on the Spaniards in the build-up to the 2022 World Cup.

However, Hansi Flick's Bayern-esque Germany stifled them somewhat on Matchday 2 as Niclas Fullkrug rescued a deserved point for Die Mannschaft. Nevertheless, Spain are top of Group E with four points and primed to progress into the round of 16.

Here's who La Roja could take on in the knockout stages should they advance.

How can Spain qualify for the last 16?

While Group E is relatively condensed following the results on Matchday 2, Spain merely need to avoid defeat against Japan to advance into the round of 16. They'll top the group with a win.

Defeat against Japan and they'll be hoping Germany gets the job done against Costa Rica. In this scenario, the two European superpowers will be level on four points but Spain's mammoth goal difference (+7) means Germany will have to beat Costa Rica by a hefty margin if they're to qualify at the Spaniards' expense.

A draw between Costa Rica and Germany will be enough to see Spain through even if they lose against Japan. Enrique's side, however, will be expected to claim all three points on Matchday 3.

Who could Spain face in the World Cup knockout stages?

Spain will win the group if they beat Japan and face the runners-up of Group F in the round of 16. Croatia, Morocco and Belgium are the current possible options for La Roja.

However, should they finish second, they'll face the winners of Group F. This will be Croatia if they beat Belgium on Matchday 3.

As group winners, a win in the first knockout round would set up a quarter-final clash with the Group G victors - Brazil - or the runners-up of Group H - likely to be the winner of Ghana vs Uruguay.

As group runners-up, victory in the round of 16 would see Spain take on the Group H winners - Portugal - or the runners-up of Group G where Serbia, Switzerland and Cameroon are still in contention.