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Thursday's Sport: Germany and Belgium under pressure to perform

Thursday sees Groups E and F draw to a close at the World Cup finals, with Germany and Belgium hoping to avoid shock early exits from the tournament in Qatar.

Germany must beat Costa Rica and hope that Spain do them a favour in their match against Japan, while Belgium need a win against 2018 runners-up Croatia to keep their hopes alive.

Away from the football showpiece, there are five UK and Ireland race meetings which can be viewed on our Sports Live Streaming platform and golf from the Hero World Challenge and South African Open to follow on the bet365 Live Golf Tracker.

There is also ongoing action at the Scottish Open snooker at Meadowbank and the very early hours of Friday morning see a major showdown in the NFL, as the Buffalo Bills take on the New England Patriots at the Gillette Stadium.

World Cup: No room for error for Germany

What: Costa Rica v Germany
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: 19:00, Thursday 1st December
How to watch: ITV4
Odds: Costa Rica 18/1, Draw 9/1, Germany 1/9

Germany crashed out the World Cup at the group stage four years ago and are in danger of repeating that unwanted trick for a second time in succession.

Having lost 2-1 to Japan in their opener, Hansi Flick’s side showed good spirit to rescue a 1-1 draw against Spain last time out, leaving them knowing that a victory over Costa Rica should be enough to see them edge through to the knockout stages.

They do still need Spain to do them a favour by defeating Japan in their final group game, with all four teams in the pool still having live hopes of progressing to the last-16.

Goals have been at a premium for Germany so far and head coach Flick may well hand a start to striker Niclas Fullkrugg after he came on and netted an all-important equaliser against Spain.

The 29-year-old Werder Bremen frontman is 8/11 to score at any time against Costa Rica and Germany are 9/2 to edge home by a one-goal margin.

Related World Cup News

World Cup day 12 preview featuring Croatia v Belgium

World Cup: Belgium on the brink

What: Croatia v Belgium
Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
When: 15:00, Thursday 1st December
How to watch: BBC One
Odds: Croatia 13/8, Draw 12/5, Belgium 13/8

Belgium find themselves in a possibly even worse predicament than their neighbours as they prepare to take on 2018 beaten finalists Croatia.

The Red Devils slumped to a 2-0 defeat to Morocco last time out and had no complaints about that result, having laboured to a 1-0 win over Canada in their tournament opener.

Now they find themselves facing a Croatian side who appear to have started to click, having overcome the concession of an early goal to overwhelm Canada 4-1 in their last game.

Even worse is the knowledge that Morocco take on the Maple Leafs in their final group game and will be expected to most observers to get the job done after showing far too much fire and commitment for Belgium earlier last time out.

A Romelu Lukaku strike gave the Red Devils a 1-0 win when the two sides met in a friendly in the summer of 2021 and the on-loan Inter Milan striker may be handed a start even if he is not fully fit by Roberto Martinez.

Lukaku is 2/1 to score at any time, while Belgium are 5/4 to qualify for the knockout stages.

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