Group E tense after Spain and Germany draw
All four teams still have chance to qualify for last 16
Group E is going down to the wire on Thursday. Spain, Japan, Costa Rica and favourites Germany go into the last round of World Cup group fixtures this week, all with a chance of progressing to the round of 16.
This after the 1-1 draw between Spain and Germany at Al Bayt Stadium in Doha.
On Sunday night Spain thought they had booked a place in the last-16 after a second-half goal by veteran striker Alvaro Morata, but Germany refused to be knocked out. Die Mannschaft fought back to earn the crucial point seven minutes from time in a thunderous effort by substitute Niclas Füllkrug.
The dynamics of the group are complicated, but the team with the best chance of qualifying is Spain, who take on Japan in their final game.
Sunday’s 1-1 draw leaves Germany at the bottom of Group E but still in with a chance of progressing to the next round.
They have to beat Costa Rica and hope Spain defeat Japan to be certain of reaching the last-16.
Spain coach Luis Enrique will rely on key players Jordi Alba and Dani Carvajal in defence. In the midfield, Rodri, Olmos Dani, Pedro and Pedri will have to be at their best. Among the forwards, it remains to be seen if Enrique will persist with Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres.
German coach Hansi Flick will be under pressure to avoid the embarrassment of being eliminated in the group stages. Players such as Manuel Neuer, Antonio Reudiger, Kimmich Joshua, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry and impressive youngster Jamal Musiala.
Also on Thursday, Morocco take on Canada, looking to progress to the next round in Group F. Morocco, who stunned Belgium at the weekend, go into the clash in second place behind Croatia and above Belgium and Canada.
* Mahlatse Mphahlele is in Doha as a guest of SuperSport