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World Cup day eight preview featuring Spain v Germany

The biggest clash of the World Cup so far takes place on Sunday when European heavyweights Germany and Spain square off in what has become a hugely important game for Die Mannschaft.

That fixture bookends an intriguing day which also features a Belgium side lucky to have avoided an upset against Canada presented with another testing fixture when they take on Morocco.

No room for error for Germany

What: Spain v Germany, Group E

Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor

When: 19:00, Sunday 27th November 2022

How to watch: BBC One

Odds: Spain 13/10, Draw 5/2, Germany 2/1

Germany had never failed to make it out of the group stages before the 2018 World Cup in Russia but now face the real prospect of falling at the first hurdle for the second global tournament in a row after a shock 2-1 loss to Japan.

The four-time winners failed to build on Ilkay Gundogan’s opener as the Japanese came from behind to record a famous win to leave Germany in a perilous position.

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Having initially been billed as group decider before the tournament, Germany must now get something from a clash against a Spain side that thrashed them 6-0 the last time the countries squared off in 2020.

That loss came during the final days of Joachim Low’s reign as Germany coach and, while things improved initially under his successor Hansi Flick, they’ve now won just three of their last 10 games.

And they are running into Spain at arguably the worst possible moment with La Roja full of confidence after recording their biggest-ever win at a World Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday.

Spain were so dominant Costa Rica failed to register a shot, but they should be challenged a little more by Germany, who created several good chances against Japan, finishing the game with an expected goals mark of 3.3.

Over 2.5 goals is 4/6 for a game Germany need to win and, whether they achieve that target or not, they are unlikely to keep a very sharp Spain attack quiet with Flick’s men having kept just one clean sheet in their last nine games.

Last-16 calling to Blue Samarui

What: Japan v Costa Rica, Group E

Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar

When: 10:00, Sunday 27th November 2022

How to watch: ITV

Odds: Japan 4/9, Draw 10/3, Costa Rica 7/1

Having stunned Germany, Japan have a great chance to reach the knockout stages for a second World Cup in a row as a win over Costa Rica, coupled with Germany failing to beat Spain, would be enough to see them through.

The Blue Samurai haven’t won successive games at a World Cup since they co-hosted the tournament in 2002 but they will like their chances of ending that run having beaten Costa Rica in four of the five previous meetings.

Los Ticos have previously been a competitive side at recent World Cups, reaching the quarter-finals in 2014, but failed to win a game in Russia in 2018 and were second best in every department when being crushed by Spain.

The Central Americans are unlikely to experience another thrashing with Japan not having the same quality as Spain and this should be a far more competitive encounter with a Japan win and under 2.5 goals 11/5.

Atlas Lions go on the hunt

What: Belgium v Morocco, Group F

Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar

When: 13:00, Sunday 27th November 2022

How to watch: BBC One

Odds: Belgium 19/20, Draw 5/2, Morocco 29/10

Belgium were relieved to have escaped from their opening game against Canada with all three points and were grateful to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois after he saved Alphonso Davies’s first-half penalty.

The Red Devils finished third at the last World Cup but will need to improve significantly if they want to go as deep into this tournament having been outplayed and outshot by Canada.

Life doesn’t get any easier for Roberto Martinez’s men with Morocco having performed admirably when holding Croatia to a goalless draw.

The Atlas Lions posed a threat on the counter-attack against Croatia thanks to the pace of Hakim Ziyech, Achraf Hakimi and Sofiane Boufal and they could cause issues for a slow Belgium backline.

The Red Devils really struggled without the focal point of their attack, Romelu Lukaku, against Canada and Lukaku is likely to miss this game too.

His replacement Michy Batshuayi won’t find it easy against a Morocco defence that gives very little away and the Morocco/draw double chance is 4/5.

Canadians face wily World Cup veterans

What: Croatia v Canada, Group F

Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Doha, Qatar

When: 13:00, Sunday 27th November 2022

How to watch: BBC One

Odds: Belgium 19/20, Draw 5/2, Morocco 29/10

Canada were left to rue their wastefulness in front of goal against Belgium as they missed out on a first-ever World Cup goal and win.

Coach John Herdman delivered an impassioned speech at the end of that match and will hope that inspires his players to raise their game once again for the meeting with Croatia.

The Croatians pose a similar challenge to Belgium, boasting a squad packed full of experienced campaigners but one that could be exposed by the pace of a youthful Canada frontline.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has indicated his team will be a little more attack-minded than they were when held by Morocco with a win a must if they want to avoid a nervy final group stage game against Belgium.

Croatia’s experience and quality should give them the edge but Canada showed enough attacking intent to suggest a first World Cup goal is just around the corner with a Croatia win and both teams to score available at 7/2.

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