With the FIFA World Cup 2022 set to kick off soon, we bring you the lowdown on Group E, consisting of Spain, Japan, Germany, and Costa Rica.

A World Cup is usually preceded by an early end to the domestic season, followed by at least six weeks of re-grouping and build-up. The Qatar edition comes packed differently. Players will be donning national team shirts a week after playing with their clubs.

While there are still 32 teams in contention, this tournament has a different feel. It is hard to gauge whether it is unique or strange, but the competition is certainly high. Even players will face different challenges, fitness-wise, more so due to the conditions they are about to enter in Qatar.

Narrowing our focus down to four teams here, we look at Group E or the Group of Death (Qatar Edition). Germany and Spain look formidable on paper, but Costa Rica and regular World Cup participants in Japan will present a tough challenge. While the two European giants are notable teams, Japan and Costa Rica are far from playing the roles of minnows.

Spain and Germany come across as clear favourites on paper. But their South American and Asian counterparts have plenty in the tank to disrupt a clean passage. Here, we look closely at the toughest group of this World Cup, Group E.

Group E – Spain, Germany, Costa Rica, Japan


November 23: Germany vs Japan; Spain vs Costa Rica

November 27: Japan vs Costa Rica; Spain vs Germany

December 02: Japan vs Spain; Costa Rica vs Germany


Spanish fans will not want to return to Russia to relive those painful memories of how their tournament transpired. On the eve of the World Cup, coach Julen Lopetegui departed amid the fiasco with the Real Madrid announcement. Under Luis Enrique, stability has reigned, and once again, La Roja fans can look forward to a more progressive national side.

Nothing points towards Spain reliving their decade-old glory days, although Enrique exhibits calmness. The Spain head coach can get the best out of the group of players he has picked. The former Barcelona manager has selected his squad while being bold in excluding some big names irrespective of their reputation.

The idea here is to build on success gradually, and Spain reaching the UEFA Euro 2020 semi-finals was one of the first indicators. Enrique is not guaranteeing success with this squad, but the group’s energy certainly promises a deep run in this World Cup.

Upholding the principles of attacking football, Enrique may not heed too much on the defensive side, for he has capable players to hold the fort at the back. The attacking zones seem more problematic for the Basque coach, with no proven goalscorer among their ranks. The likes of Alvaro Morata and Ferran Torres have been everything but consistent.

Enrique is taking a risk with those in the frontline. After all, he has left out experienced striker Gerard Moreno and was unable to call Mikel Oyarzabal. The Spain head coach will take relief with his midfield lineup and will likely rely heavily on the Barcelona trio of Sergio Busquets, Gavi, and Pedri.

Key Players: Gavi, Pedri, and Pau Torres

While the selection of attackers was what Enrique could do best from the available options, he had choices aplenty for midfield and defence. Teenagers Gavi and Pedri have seen plenty of action in the past 18 months and continue to feature for Barcelona regularly and relentlessly.

Their shoulders are young, and Enrique could have done more to ease the pressure. Instead, the decision not to include Thiago Alcantara could put more responsibility on Gavi and Pedri. While they have experienced heads around them, running a midfield and creating from it falls on their head.

Similarly, Sergio Ramos and Nacho are two experienced players who got left out. Unlike the midfield, Enrique had played without them in UEFA Euro 2020. Now, the pressure will be on the energetic shoulders of Aymeric Laporte and, more importantly, Pau Torres.


Like their Spanish counterparts, German fans would like to banish the memories of a disastrous World Cup in Russia and look ahead at what the future holds. Hansi Flick will take charge of a terrific squad of players. He will aim to emulate Jupp Derwall, the last German manager to win a major tournament (Euro 1980) at his first attempt.

Incidentally, Qatar 2022 will be Germany’s first major tournament without Joachim Low in the dugout since 2006. However, they are in the safe hands of Flick, who has a squad formidable enough to challenge for the top honour. Unlike other major tournaments, Germany had to banish the ghosts of Russia, for that was the first time they failed to progress beyond the first round.

While Die Mannschaft were extremely efficient in qualifying, their faltering form was evident during the UEFA Nations League campaign. Flick’s men only managed a solitary victory in six games, a 5-2 demolition of Italy. However, recent friendlies and selected players’ form should not be overlooked.

Hence, despite their mixed-bag form, one cannot underestimate Germany at the World Cup, and we can see them going deep in the tournament. The Russian edition was a blemish on their otherwise formidable record of reaching the semi-finals in four successive World Cups.

Key Players: Jamal Musiala, Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich

Hansi Flick has mixed his options well and selected a group that balances Germany’s act. The last tournament was full of players, either ageing or beyond their purpose in the national team; the current manager has a different ring to his persona and selections.

For his part, Manuel Neuer comes with vast experience of playing for Germany in important tournaments. Alongside Thomas Muller, he forms the leadership core of this squad. With young guns like Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka, and Jamal Musiala playing with a rather free mind, the Germans have solid options.

Musiala, in particular, has shone for Bayern this season and is already earmarked to have a great time in Qatar. He will be key for Germany’s chances in the final third, along with the experience and grit of Kimmich behind him.

Costa Rica

On paper, Costa Rica will have no chance of going through, taking the other teams in the group into account. In our opinion, Spain and Germany are overwhelming favourites to progress, with Japan pencilled in to finish third. However, Costa Rica have proved to be tricky customers on the big stage in the past, and it may be the right time to repeat the feat.

It is the same Costa Rica that topped a fearsome group of England, Italy, and Uruguay back in 2014. While the world admired them in Brazil for their youthful energy, this team’s core has not changed in many years. Experienced heads Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz continue to feature in Luis Fernando Suarez’s side and will be key to their chances.

Costa Rica have a deep defence; and chances are they might be a gritty team. Los Ticos could be difficult to break down in games, which may prove a weapon if they enter the knockout stages. The attacking end is problematic for Suarez’s side, as seen in the qualifications rounds. For context, Joel Campbell was their top scorer with three goals.

Key Players: Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz, and Keylor Navas

The trio of experienced players will prove a key factor for Costa Rica in their journey. They have played in several high-profile tournaments and carry the spirit of some of the country’s best displays on the world stage.

Costa rRica are not packing a punch with their squad selections amid advancing age of key players. However, their reliance on gritty performances have taken them places in the past. Suarez will rely on similar tactics in the face of formidable opponents.

Joel Campbell will also be a key part as he could bring his attacking experience to the fold. He will prove important in Qatar alongside veteran pair Keylor Navas and Bryan Ruiz.


Japan and their fans tend to come to big tournaments in high spirits and revered for their moral practices, such as cleaning the grounds of its litter after each game. Their spirits were not deterred after the painful loss to Belgium in the last showdown.

That memory, no matter how painful, should become an inspiration for Hajime Moriyasu’s side ahead of the tournament. No matter who the opposition are in Group E, Japan, one should not underestimate them at any cost. Their win against Germany in 2018 will still count as one of the top achievements in recent times, and many will hope they replicate that result.

In short, Japan has nothing to lose and everything to gain in this edition of the World Cup. Their chances of progression are slim at best, but they come to Qatar with hope and the chance to cause an upset. Moriyasu will again rely on those players with European experience, notably from the Bundesliga.

Key Players: Takehiro Tomiyasu, Wataru Endo

Hajime Moriyasu will be hoping for Takehiro Tomiyasu’s quick return to fitness after the defender suffered a muscular problem. He remains sidelined for Arsenal’s last game at the weekend. There is positive news around the versatile star’s injury, and missing him for even one game would prove costly for Japan.

The other player, probably Japan’s most important, is a midfielder, Wataru Endo. The VfB Stuttgart defensive midfielder is a leader on the pitch, and his effective methods to break play would prove crucial for the Japanese. Greater emphasis will be on the Asian side’s ability to hurt teams in the attack, without which they might prove ineffective overall.

Likely to Qualify: Spain and Germany

Without speculating on the order of their qualification from Group E, it is safe to assume Spain and Germany look likely to progress into the next stage. Luis Enrique and Hansi Flick have deep squads with quality both on the pitch and bench.

They have the means to go deep in the tournament. But looking at Spain, they might take a while to get the grips before firing on all cylinders. We even predict them to have one big game in the group stages, which could reaffirm any hidden confidence within the squad.

Meanwhile, Germany are a formidable force. They are not spoken in the same breath as other ‘favourites’, but their prowess might take them closer to the title. Much will depend on the players’ performances and pedigree to mount a considerable challenge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I agree to the Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.


Welcome Back!

Login to your account below

Retrieve your password

Please enter your username or email address to reset your password.