The penultimate day of Fifa World Cup group stage action is here and it is all to play for in Groups E and F. Spain need to avoid defeat against Japan to progress to the knockout stages in Group E, while Germany need to beat Costa Rica for their best bet at qualification.
Over in Group F, Belgium still have a chance of reaching the last 16 if they can beat Croatia, but only if Morocco fail to win against Canada, who are already eliminated.
With four games in action, here is everything you need to know about Thursday’s action.
Where: Al Thumama Stadium, Al Thumama
When: 3pm (GMT) / 6pm (AST)
TV: BBC Two, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website
Last meeting: Morocco 4-0 Canada (Marrakesh, 2016)
Canada’s last result: Lost 4-1 v Croatia
Morocco’s last result: Won 2-0 v Belgium
Canada squad:1 Dominik Livakovic, 2 Josip Stanisic, 3 Borna Barisic, 4 Ivan Perisic, 5 Martin Erlic, 6 Dejan Lovren, 7 Lovro Majer, 8 Mateo Kovacic, 9 Andrej Kramaric, 10 Luka Modric, 11 Marcelo Brozovic, 12 Ivo Grbic, 13 Nikola Vlasic, 14 Marko Livaja, 15 Mario Pasalic, 16 Bruno Petkovic, 17 Ante Budimir, 18 Mislav Orsic, 19 Borna Sosa, 20 Josko Gvardiol, 21 Domagoj Vida, 22 Josip Juranovic, 23 Ivica Ivusic, 24 Josip Sutalo, 25 Luka Susic, 26 Kristijan Jakic
Morocco squad: 1 Yassine Bounou, 2 Achraf Hakimi, 3 Noussair Mazraoui, 4 Sofyan Amrabat, 5 Nayef Aguerd, 6 Romain Saiss, 7 Hakim Ziyech, 8 Azzedine Ounahi, 9 Abderrazak Hamdallah, 10 Anass Zaroury, 11 Abdelhamid Sabiri, 12 Munir Mohamedi, 13 Ilias Chair, 14 Zakaria Aboukhlal, 15 Selim Amallah, 16 Abde Ezzalzouli, 17 Sofiane Boufal, 18 Jawad El Yamiq, 19 Youssef En-Nesyri, 20 Achraf Dari, 21 Walid Cheddira, 22 Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti, 23 Bilal El Khannous, 24 Badr Benoun, 25 Yahia Attiyat Allah, 26 Yahya Jabrane
Preview: With Canada’s World Cup dreams shattered by Croatia last time out, they have nothing but pride to play for. They’ve shown glimpses of quality in their two matches so far and they still look like a team building toward something for the future. This has been a great learning experience for them and they will hope to go out with a bang.
As for Morocco, they have a great chance to reach the knockout stages for just the second time in their history. They were impressive against Belgium in their last outing and there were signs that they could cause an upset in their goalless draw with Croatia. A victory over Canada will see them through to the last 16.
Sportsman stat: This will be Morocco’s fifth World Cup match against non-European opposition, having lost their previous four matches against Peru, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Iran.
Betfred match odds: Canada 13/5, Morocco 23/20, draw 12/5
Favourites for first goalscorer: Youssef En-Nesyri (Morocco) 4/1, Abderazzak Hamdallah (Morocco) 4/1, Walid Cheddira (Morocco) 5/1
Featured bet: Over 1.5 Morocco goals - 11/10
To qualify from Group F: Morocco 1/12
Where: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al-Rayyan
When: 3pm (GMT) / 6pm (AST)
TV: BBC One, BBC iPlayer and BBC Sport website
Last meeting: Belgium 1-0 Croatia (Brussels, 2021)
Croatia’s last result: Won 4-1 v Canada
Belgium’s last result: Lost 2-0 v Morocco
Croatia squad: 1 Dominik Livakovic, 2 Josip Stanisic, 3 Borna Barisic, 4 Ivan Perisic, 5 Martin Erlic, 6 Dejan Lovren, 7 Lovro Majer, 8 Mateo Kovacic, 9 Andrej Kramaric, 10 Luka Modric, 11 Marcelo Brozovic, 12 Ivo Grbic, 13 Nikola Vlasic, 14 Marko Livaja, 15 Mario Pasalic, 16 Bruno Petkovic, 17 Ante Budimir, 18 Mislav Orsic, 19 Borna Sosa, 20 Josko Gvardiol, 21 Domagoj Vida, 22 Josip Juranovic, 23 Ivica Ivusic, 24 Josip Sutalo, 25 Luka Susic, 26 Kristijan Jakic
Belgium squad: 1 Thibaut Courtois, 2 Toby Alderweireld, 3 Arthur Theate, 4 Wout Faes, 5 Jan Vertonghen, 6 Axel Witsel, 7 Kevin De Bruyne, 8 Youri Tielemans, 9 Romelu Lukaku, 10 Eden Hazard, 11 Yannick Carrasco, 12 Simon Mignolet, 13 Koen Casteels, 14 Dries Mertens, 15 Thomas Meunier, 16 Thorgan Hazard, 17 Leandro Trossard, 18 Amadou Onana, 19 Leander Dendoncker, 20 Hans Vanaken, 21 Timothy Castagne, 22 Charles De Ketelaere, 23 Michy Batshuayi, 24 Lois Openda, 25 Jeremy Doku, 26 Zeno Debast
Preview: Croatia looked more like the side that went all the way to the final four years ago as they came from behind to comfortably beat Canada in matchday two. The attacking quality was on show and that positive display will only give them a boost ahead of their group decider against Belgium.
Belgium look disinterested at the World Cup and it seems that there is tension within the dressing room. Jan Vertonghen didn’t appear to be pleased with Kevin De Bruyne’s comments about the Red Devils’ group being too old to do anything in this tournament. The squad disharmony could hand Croatia a huge advantage heading into this one.
Sportsman stat: Belgium’s 2-0 defeat to Morocco ended a 13-game unbeaten run across World Cup group stage matches (W8 D5), they last lost consecutive group matches between 1982 and 1986 (three in a row)
Betfred match odds: Croatia 17/10, Belgium 17/10, draw 12/5
Favourites for first goalscorer: Romelu Lukaku (Belgium) 10/3, Michy Batshuayi (Belgium) 9/2, Ante Budimir (Croatia) 9/2
Featured bet: Over 1.5 Croatia goals 13/8
To qualify from Group F: Croatia 1/3, Belgium 5/4
Where: Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor
When: 7pm (GMT) / 10pm (AST)
TV: ITV4, ITV X and STV Player
Last meeting: Germany 4-2 Costa Rica (Munich, 2006 World Cup)
Costa Rica’s last result: Won 1-0 v Japan
Germany’s last result: Drew 1-1 v Spain
Costa Rica squad: 1 Keylor Navas, 2 Daniel Chacon, 3 Juan Pablo Vargas, 4 Keysher Fuller, 5 Celso Borges, 6 Oscar Duarte, 7 Anthony Contreras, 8 Bryan Oviedo, 9 Jewison Bennette, 10 Bryan Ruiz, 11 Johan Venegas, 12 Joel Campbell, 13 Gerson Torres, 14 Youstin Salas, 15 Francisco Calvo, 16 Carlos Martinez, 17 Yeltsin Tejeda, 18 Esteban Alvarado, 19 Kendall Waston, 20 Brandon Aguilera, 21 Douglas Lopez, 22 Ronaldo Matarrita, 23 Patrick Sequeira, 24 Roan Wilson, 25 Anthony Hernandez, 26 Alvaro Zamora
Germany squad: 1 Manuel Neuer, 2 Antonio Rudiger, 3 David Raum, 4 Matthias Ginter, 5 Thilo Kehrer, 6 Joshua Kimmich, 7 Kai Havertz, 8 Leon Goretzka, 9 Niclas Fullkrug, 10 Serge Gnabry, 11 Mario Gotze, 12 Kevin Trapp, 13 Thomas Muller, 14 Jamal Musiala, 15 Niklas Sule, 16 Lukas Klostermann, 17 Julian Brandt, 18 Jonas Hofmann, 19 Leroy Sane, 20 Christian Gunter, 21 Ilkay Gundogan, 22 Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 23 Nico Schlotterbeck, 24 Karim Adeyemi, 25 Armel Bella-Kotchap, 26 Youssoufa Moukoko
Preview: Costa Rica’s slender victory over Japan in matchday two has given them a lifeline at the World Cup and they still have a chance to reach the knockout stages. They will be facing tough opposition in Germany who are in need of a victory to progress to the last 16 themselves.
Hansi Flick’s side were able to give a good account of themselves against Spain as they rescued a point to keep their World Cup hopes alive. They need to find a consistent rhythm in their play by getting on the front foot from the get-go. Die Mannschaft have to win against Costa Rica, but also need Spain to do them a favour by avoiding defeat against Japan.
Sportsman stat: By drawing with Spain in matchday two, Germany failed to win their first two World Cup group stage matches for the first time in their history
Betfred match odds: Costa Rica 22/1, Germany 1/9, draw 9/1
Favourites for first goalscorer: Niclas Fullkrug (Germany) 3/1, Kai Havertz (Germany) 3/1, Serge Gnabry (Germany) 10/3
Featured bet: Over 3.5 Germany goals 6/5
To qualify from Group E: Costa Rica 8/1, Germany 1/5
Where: Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan
When: 7pm (GMT) / 10pm (AST)
TV: ITV1, STV, ITVX, STV Player
Last meeting: Spain 1-0 Japan (Cordoba, 2001)
Japan’s last result: Lost 1-0 v Costa Rica
Spain’s last result: Drew 1-1 v Germany
Japan squad: 1 Eiji Kawashima, 2 Miki Yamane, 3 Shogo Taniguchi, 4 Ko Itakura, 5 Yuto Nagatomo, 6 Wataru Endo, 7 Gaku Shibasaki, 8 Ritsu Doan, 9 Kaoru Mitoma, 10 Takumi Minamino, 11 Takefusa Kubo, 12 Shuichi Gonda, 13 Hidemasa Morita, 14 Junya Ito, 15 Daichi Kamada, 16 Takehiro Tomiyasu, 17 Ao Tanaka, 18 Takuma Asano, 19 Hiroki Sakai, 20 Shuto Machino, 21 Ayase Ueda, 22 Maya Yoshida, 23 Daniel Schmidt, 24 Yuki Soma, 25 Daizen Maeda, 26 Hiroki Ito
Spain squad: 1 Robert Sanchez, 2 Cesar Azpilicueta, 3 Eric Garcia, 4 Pau Torres, 5 Sergio Busquets, 6 Marcos Llorente, 7 Alvaro Morata, 8 Koke, 9 Gavi, 10 Marco Asensio, 11 Ferran Torres, 12 Nico Williams, 13 David Raya, 14 Alejandro Balde, 15 Hugo Guillamon, 16 Rodri, 17 Yeremy Pino, 18 Jordi Alba, 19 Carlos Soler, 20 Dani Carvajal, 21 Dani Olmo, 22 Pablo Sarabia, 23 Unai Simon, 24 Aymeric Laporte, 25 Ansu Fati, 26 Pedri
Preview: Japan will be frustrated with their defeat against Costa Rica after their incredible victory over Germany in matchday one. Samurai Blue could have booked their place in the last 16 last time out but now have to get a positive result while hoping the other result goes in their favour to progress.
Spain have looked like one of the strongest teams in the tournament thanks to the creativity and quality of their midfield players. They were tested against Germany in their most recent fixture but they should have more than enough against Japan to seal their place in the knockout stages.
Sportsman stat: Spain have won their final group game in eight of their last nine World Cup appearances, with the exception being a 2-2 draw with Morocco in 2018
Betfred match odds: Japan 7/1, Spain 2/5, draw 19/5
Favourites for first goalscorer: Alvaro Morata (Spain) 3/1, Ansu Fati (Spain) 10/3, Ferran Torres (Spain) 10/3
Featured bet: Spain to win both halves 12/5
To qualify from Group E: Japan 7/1, Spain 1/1000
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