Match preview for Day 12 of 2022 FIFA World Cup as Groups E and F take centre stage in their final round of games.
In Group E, all four teams of; Spain, Japan, Costa Rica and Germany can still qualify meaning that a tense evening await with multiple permutations potentially set to play a part throughout their final group games.
Group F meanwhile sees a three-way battle as Croatia, Morocco and Belgium all battle for a knockout spot, with Croatia’s clash against Belgium seeing the second and third-placed teams of 2018 World Cup collide with at least one of those two teams potentially set for a shock early exit.
Group F (3:00pm GMT)
Canada vs Morocco
Although Canada have been eliminated, they should be proud of their efforts because they have played fearless football against Belgium and Croatia, yet defensive mistakes in the latter match ultimately exposed their flaws but this is a chance to atone and begin preparations for 2026 tournament.
Morocco meanwhile were simply clinical in their attacking play to stun Belgium despite displaying poor end product in open play, yet know that at least a draw or win would see them qualify for the Last 16 for the first time in 32 years.
Canada’s attack though will have to be clinical if they’re to penerate a well-disciplined Moroccan defence who haven’t conceded in six matches, but I do anticipate a tough battle between two strong teams of which Morocco should edge if they continue to play like they did against Belgium.
Prediction: Canada 1-1 Morocco
Croatia vs Belgium
Having expected this tie to be a simple crunch decider as to which team tops the group, this tie is now very intriguing because a defeat could send either team home early.
Croatia though can come into this game full of confidence after they put a sloppy opening draw against Morocco behind them, with a ruthless comeback win over Canada in which they weathered attacks well despite looking unsettled at times in the first half before finishing on top.
Belgium meanwhile simply lacked any end product to wasteful attacks against Morocco, whilst their sloppy defensive efforts were deservingly punished so I seriously do expect a reaction here given that only a win would likely be enough to secure progression.
Neither defence though have looked particularly solid this tournament so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a nervy battle but Belgium might well prove a point of unity, after reports of a brawl post-match in the dressing room which will surely spur them on to come out and get that win.
Prediction: Croatia 1-2 Belgium
Group E (7:00pm GMT)
Costa Rica vs Germany
After being mauled by Spain in their opening game, Costa Rica could of easily folded and rolled over in this group, yet they stubbornly dug in against Japan with defensive resilience and snatched a clinical winner to give themselves hope of progressing with a win here.
Germany though continued to look sluggish because they didn’t really handle Spain’s press well despite matching them in tactical intensity, amidst decent defending and some unfortunate luck in their end product but did respond well with a clinical equaliser to keep their faint hopes alive.
Hansi Flick’s Germany though know that only a win would see them qualify if Japan lose to Spain so they simply have to go for it, whereas Costa Rica know that a draw or win would be enough if Spain do them a favour so the mental approach could also be important here.
Either way, victory looks absolutely vital for both teams so I feel like it could boil down to who wants it more and for me, Costa Rica could have the edge if they replicate Sunday’s smash-and-grab win over Japan.
Prediction: Costa Rica 1-0 Germany
Japan vs Spain
After their stunning victory against Germany in their opener, Japan seemed to carry that positivity into their eventual defeat against Costa Rica because they did show high energy and great dominating control of possession yet just lacked that final touch on top of one sloppy costly defensive error.
That defeat therefore means that this is now an absolute must win because they realistically must match Costa Rica’s result or snatch a draw if Germany win in order to qualify.
Spain meanwhile have their fate in their own hands and after two positive performances despite not playing their maximum best against Germany last time out, I can’t see them losing this because their defence should be able to weather Japan’s high energy attacks whilst they’re dangerous up front.
Goals though feel like a certainty in this game but I am going for Spain to edge this tricky-looking clash.
Prediction: Japan 0-1 Spain