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The bottom two sides in World Cup 2022 Group E prepare for a mouthwatering battle for qualification on Thursday, as Costa Rica tackle Germany at the Al Bayt Stadium.

Hansi Flick’s side left it late to rescue a 1-1 draw versus Spain last time out, while Los Ticos kept their hopes of a last-16 place alive by beating Japan 1-0.


Refusing to let the seven-goal mauling that they suffered at the hands of Spain affect them, Costa Rica dusted themselves down to meet a Japan side who had got the better of Germany only four days before, but it was the Asian nation who would be humbled this time.

An 81st-minute strike from Keysher Fuller did meet the gloves of Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, but he could only help the ball on its way into the top corner to spark jubilant scenes for the Costa Ricans, whose fate now lies in their own hands once again.

Now sitting in third place with three points to their name – level with second-placed Japan and only one behind Spain ahead of their top-of-the-table clash – Costa Rica will progress to the knockout stages for just the third time in their history with victory over Germany this week.

German stomachs dropped when Alvaro Morata’s near-post flick found its way into the back of the net for Spain on Sunday evening, with the 2014 World Cup winners staring down the barrel of yet another catastrophic early elimination from football’s grandest stage.

However, having been given the chance to strut his stuff in the number nine spot by Flick, Werder Bremen talisman Niclas Fullkrug lashed home a thunderous effort in the 83rd minute to rescue what could prove to be a vital point for Die Mannschaft, who also had an Antonio Rudiger goal ruled out for offside on the day.

Nothing less than a win will do for Germany if they are to break into the top two on Thursday, and a victory for Flick’s side coupled with a Spain win over Japan would ensure that the one-point basement side advance to the last 16.


Costa Rica possible starting lineup:

Navas; Fuller, Duarte, Vargas, Watson, Oviedo; Torres, Borges, Tejeda, Campbell; Contreras

Germany possible starting lineup:

Neuer; Klostermann, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Gundogan; Gnabry, Musiala, Sane; Fullkrug


We say: Costa Rica 0-3 Germany

The fire within the Costa Ricans’ bellies may be burning bright, but a distinct lack of goal threat from their attackers should prove costly against Germany, even an out-of-sorts one.

Bringing in the likes of Sane and Fullkrug from the start should help Flick’s side lay down an early marker at the Al Bayt Stadium, and we expect Die Mannschaft to break down the defence-heavy Ticos side and do all that they can to push for a top-two finish, leaving their fate in the hands of Spain and Japan.

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