FIFA World Cup 2022 Group E: What to expect with Spain and Germany in pool

Football powerhouses Spain and Germany are in FIFA World Cup's Group E, which makes it a spicy affair.

File photo of Spain's Pedri.   -  REUTERS

FIFA World Cup 2022 Group E has shaped up as a tough pool after the draw, with former champions Spain and Germany drawn together, along with Japan. The winner of the second inter-continental playoff between New Zealand and Costa Rica on June 14 will join the group.

The last time Spain and Germany met in the World Cup, it was the semifinal of the 2010 edition. Carles Puyol’s header propelled Spain into the final and Las Rojas eventually won the trophy in vuvuzela-fuelled South Africa.

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Here is a look at the four teams in Group E and how they stack up at this point as they gear up for Qatar 2022.

Spain

Spain will compete in its 16th FIFA World Cup and this is its 12th successive appearance, having not missed a tournament appearance since 1974.

La Rojas will open the tournament against the winner of the second inter-continental playoff. This ensures Spain will play a non-European country in its opening match for the first time in 20 years.

The 2010 World Cup Champion will have a new generation to showcase in the midfield, with Barcelona youngsters Pedri and Gavi in the midfield, and Atletico Madrid’s Koke bringing his maturity.

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File Photo: Iker Casillas holds up the trophy after the World Cup final match between the Netherlands and Spain in Johannesburg, South Africa.

 

Mikel Oyarzabal is in danger of missing out, following an knee injury. Alvaro Morata, the country’s eighth highest goalscorer is set to lead the attack, with Pablo Sarabia and Ferran Torres along the wings.

The experience of Jordi Alba and Cezar Azpilicueta will come in handy as they pair to fortify the defence along with Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte and Villarreal’s Pau Torres.

Manager: Luis Enrique

Spain’s World Cup record —

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Germany

Germany has played more World Cup finals (eight) than any other nation, and won the trophy four times.

When Germany failed to qualify from their group at Russia 2018, it was the first time since 1938 that they had not progressed beyond the first stage in the tournament.

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Germany celebrate with the World Cup trophy after defeating Argentina 1-0 in extra time during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Final match between Germany and Argentina at Maracana on July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

In its run-up to Qatar 2022, Germany has won nine of its 10 matches and Kai Havertz, who has replaced compatriot Timo Werner as the centre forward at Chelsea, is expected to lead the attack.

Germany would look to make the best of Joshua Kimmich’s presence in the midfield, with assistance from Ilkay Gundogan, who has said the team's priority is to peak at the tournament.

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Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, the Golden Glove winner of the 2014 World Cup and the captain of the side, will be there, among the few from the team that lifted the trophy eight years ago.

Manager: Hansi Flick

Germany’s World Cup record —

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Japan

Japan made it to the round of 16 in the last world cup and nearly caused an upset by pushing Belgium to the brink before losing out to a last minute Nacer Chadli goal.

Japan's tally of six goals in Russia 2018 is its highest ever total in a single World Cup tournament. This time, it's grouped with Spain and Germany, two sides it has never met in the World Cup before.

Japan has a good mixture of veterans and youngsters. Real Madrid’s Takefusa Kubo and Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino will have the task of creating chances in the midfield, with Yuya Osako leading the attack.

Osako, 31, has honed his attacking skills playing alongside 2010 World Cup Winner Andres Iniesta in the J-league.

Only two sides from Asia have reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup — Korea DPR (1966) and Korea Republic (2002).

Manager: Hajime Moriyasu

Japan’s World Cup record —

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New Zealand / Costa Rica

New Zealand has won the Oceania final, thrashing Solomon Islands 5-0 and is eyeing a trip to the World Cup for the third time in its history.

The All Whites will look to Newcastle United striker Chris Wood to lead the charge. Wood has played a key role in the resurgence of the Magpies and will hope to shine on June 14 when it faces Costa Rica in the playoff.

Manager: Danny Hay

New Zealand’s World Cup record

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Costa Rica has participated in four of the last five World Cups (it missed out in 2010) and made it to the quarterfinal in Brazil 2014.

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When it locks horns with New Zealand in the playoff, it will have veterans Alvaro Saborio and Bryan Ruiz in the attack. The team has a solid custodian in Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

Manager: Luis Fernando Suarez

Costa Rica’s World Cup record —

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