Spain will look to continue their impressive start to the World Cup when they take on Germany in their second group game on Sunday.

La Furia Roja have made an exceptional start to the World Cup with a massive win over Costa Rica. Luis Enrique’s side scored seven goals without reply in their opening group game. And Spain will be full of confidence heading into the contest against Germany.

Meanwhile, Germany crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Japan and will be under enormous pressure heading into this game. Die Mannschaft will need to beat Spain to stay in the race for the knockout round qualification.

If Germany lose here and Japan win their game against Costa Rica, it would all over for Hansi Flick’s side. Germany were quite poor in the 2018 World Cup as well and the fans will be expecting the players to step up and salvage some pride here. They have a talented squad at their disposal and they can beat any side on their day.

It remains to be seen whether they can contain a free-flowing Spanish attack on Sunday. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the FIFA World Cup 2022 encounter ahead of the latest meeting between Spain and Germany.

Team News & Tactics

Spain

Spain are likely to persist with the side that took Costa Rica apart in their opening group game. Luis Enrique has no notable injury concerns except for Jose Gaya, who has been replaced by Alejandro Balde in the squad.

Unai Simon is set to start in goal behind a back four of Cesar Azpilcueta, Rodri, Aymeric Laporte and Jordi Alba. Rodri and Laporte will help Spain build from the back and control the possession. Azpilicueta will be expected to deal with the threat posed by Leroy Sane if he starts.

In the midfield, prodigious Barcelona duo of Gavi and Pedri will start alongside Sergio Busquets. Busquets will look to mop up the German attacks, while Pedri and Gavi will look to add creativity and drive in the middle.

The front three will see Marco Asensio featuring as the false nine. Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres will be deployed as the wide forwards.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Simon; Azpilicueta, Rodri, Laporte, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Torres, Asensio, Olmo

Germany

Hansi Flick is likely to continue with his 4-2-3-1 setup once again. Manuel Neuer will start in goal. The back four will comprise of Niklas Sule, Antonio Rudiger, Nico Schlotterbeck and David Raum. Germany  are likely to defend deep here especially because of the lack of quality attacking full-backs.

But Raum will hold the key to unlock Spain’s defence on Sunday. Ilkay Gundogan will partner Joshua Kimmich in the midfield double pivot. The Manchester City captain will be expected to control the tempo of the game, and Kimmich will break up the play.

Leroy Sane was on the bench against Japan, but he could start here. Germany will need his flair and pace. Serge Gnabry will start out wide as well, with Jamal Musiala as the number ten. Thomas Muller is expected to lead the line for Germany.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sule, Rudiger, Schlotterbeck, Raum; Kimmich, Gundogan; Gnabry, Musiala, Sane; Muller

Key Stats

  • Sunday’s clash will be the fifth meeting between Spain and Germany at the FIFA World Cup, the joint-most that Spain have faced any side at the competition (also 5 vs Brazil). They failed to win any of their first three against Germany (D1 L2) but won the most recent encounter 1-0 in the 2010 semi-final en route to lifting the trophy.
  • Germany have lost three of their last four World Cup games, as many as they had in their previous 21. They have lost two in a row in the competition for just the third time (also in 1958 and 1982), never losing three consecutive World Cup games before.
  • Spain won their opening game of the 2022 World Cup against Costa Rica 7-0, their biggest ever win in the finals. In only three previous World Cup editions have Spain won both of their opening two matches: 1950, 2002 and 2006.
  • Spain have scored 16 penalties at the World Cup, the most of any nation in the history of the competition (excluding shootouts). However, Germany have not conceded a penalty goal in normal time of a World Cup match since 1990 against the Netherlands, with this an ongoing run of 45 matches at the tournament without conceding from the spot outside of shootouts.
  • Ilkay Gundogan has scored nine goals in 22 appearances for Germany since the start of 2021, after scoring eight goals in 42 games for the national side between 2011 and 2020. He is looking to become the first player to score in both of Germany’s first two games at a World Cup since Miroslav Klose in 2002.

Player to Watch

Gavi

The Barcelona prodigy was in outstanding form against Costa Rica. Gavi dominated the proceedings in the last game and will be looking to pull the strings against Germany as well.

Costa Rica gave the space and time to influence the game, and he did so with devastating effect. Germany were quite open in the midfield against Japan, and Gavi could punish them if that is the case again on Sunday.

Prediction

Spain 2-1 Germany

Spain were in full flow against Costa Rica, and the massive win will have given them an immense confidence boost. They will be in buoyant spirits heading into this game, knowing that they can beat a struggling Germany.

On the other hand, Die Mannschaft will be playing to salvage some pride here. This a do-or-die game for them, and they cannot afford to slip up. This is likely to be a close contest, but Spain have the quality to edge this one eventually.

The Hard Tackle predicts a narrow win for Luis Enrique’s side. And depending on the result in the game between Japan and Costa Rica, Germany might be at risk of bowing out of the world Cup in the group stage for a second successive edition.

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