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Croatia v Canada and Spain v Germany: Mark Langdon's World Cup betting tips

The biggest match of the World Cup so far sees European heavyweights Spain and Germany do battle on Sunday and the Racing Post's Mark Langdon is on hand to provide his top tips for the clash as well as pick out the value in the intriguing clash between Croatia and Canada.

Expect fireworks with Germany's World Cup hopes on the line

What: Spain v Germany, Group E 
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor 
When: 19:00, Sunday 27th November 2022 
How to watch: BBC1 & iPlayer
Odds: Spain 13/10, Draw 5/2, Germany 2/1

Germany's World Cup dreams are hanging by a thread following their humbling 2-1 defeat at the hands of Japan on Wednesday but that was a harsh loss and they can still cause many problems for Spain in Al Khor. 

There will always be a lot of noise around a defeat of that magnitude, however, most of the underlying statistics highlight the performance was nowhere near as bad as the result suggested. 

They dominated the shot count 26-12, had nine efforts on target to Japan's four from 74 per cent possession with an expected goals figure of over three which shows the chances were plentiful outside of Ilkay Gundogan's first-half penalty. 

Gundogan and Jamal Musiala both missed big opportunities to extend Germany's advantage before Japan's unexpected late comeback which leaves Hansi Flick's men in a hole. 

Defensive issues were always going to be the concern for Germany in Qatar and so it has already proven to be the issue with most of the criticism reserved for right-back Niklas Sule and centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck. 

Maybe Flick should have had Mats Hummels in his squad and you can argue about some of his team selections, but the simple fact is had they scored the second goal when on top it is most likely Germany would have beaten Japan comfortably. 

The Germans now have to go on the attack - which plays to their strength anyway but also makes them even more vulnerable - and taking over 2.5 goals at 8/11 looks a solid play, particularly as Flick's side did not keep a clean sheet in any of their six Nations League matches this year, while also shipping seven goals in four matches at Euro 2020. 

Meanwhile, Musiala has magic in his boots and is of interest at 10/1 each-way to score first. He has nine Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich this season and was unplayable at times against Japan as he struck up a relationship with marauding left-back David Raum. 

It's hard to know what to make of Spain's 7-0 cruise against Costa Rica when Barcelona starlets Gavi and Pedri ran the show from midfield. 

On the face of it beating any side by such a wide margin at the World Cup is an achievement but Costa Rica's ageing legs were unable to pressure Spain in the same way high-class German midfielders Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich will. 

Costa Rica did not manage a shot - on or off target - and it would be wise for punters to wait and see whether Spain look as impressive against a stronger calibre of opponent before jumping to long-term conclusions.

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Canada could come up short again

What: Croatia v Canada, Group F 
Where: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Khor 
When: 16:00, Sunday 27th November 2022 
How to watch: BBC1 & iPlayer
Odds: Croatia 11/10, Draw 12/5, Canada 5/2

It is only natural to react to one good or bad performance at a World Cup but it is important for bettors to keep a cool head during the packed schedule. 

Croatia were odds-on at 8/11 to win this match before the World Cup started but are now out to 11/10 and the overreaction to Canada's performance - if not result - against Belgium has much to do with that. 

The 2018 runners-up now look a value bet to win the game and build on a steady goalless stalemate against stubborn Morocco. 

It was difficult for Croatia to find space against Morocco but this will be a different style of match with Canada committed to throwing players forward. 

There will be more opportunities for the classy Croatian midfield of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic to supply through balls and the later kick-off time from the early start against Morocco will suit too. 

Croatia appear to be underestimated because their form is strong. They took Spain to extra-time at the last Euros and have already qualified for the Nations League finals, topping a group which included world champions France. 

They were not flashy against Morocco but were defensively solid, which was not the case for Canada in their 1-0 loss to Belgium. Alphonso Davies's missed penalty proved costly for the Canadians, who racked up 22 shots against Belgium. 

However, only three of those were on target and despite an energetic performance there were not many clear-cut opportunities created. 

Canada were energetic but it is worth remembering injury-hit Belgium's best days are well behind them and Croatia's calm, controlling midfield can win out.

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