Germany need to beat Costa Rica to secure safe passage while keeping one eye on the other Group E clash, hoping for a Spanish win.

Group E has come down to the wire on Matchday 3, as bottom sides Costa Rica and Germany go head to head in this pivotal clash. Both teams are in with a chance to qualify but desperately need Spain to defeat Japan. The South Americans gave themselves a chance to qualify with a late goal against the Asians in the last game.

Keysher Fuller’s 82nd-minute strike greased the palms of Japan keeper Shuichi Honda before finding the top corner. That goal kept their hopes alive, but Costa Rica now face a different kettle of fish in Germany and will need to beat them to guarantee qualification.

Having started the campaign on a sour note and shipped seven goals against Spain, Costa Rica find themselves well behind Japan on goal difference. A draw against Germany would suffice for them to progress, provided Spain beat Japan. A win for the Blue Samurai would mean the end for South Americans.

Germany will enter the final group game in an optimistic mood following their draw with Spain. Alvaro Morata’s second-half goal meant Hansi Flick’s men were starring down the barrel on another catastrophic end to their World Cup campaign.

Substitute Niclas Fullkrug’s late equaliser instilled hope in the German camp. They are now confident of sealing progressions, albeit as Group E runners up. The road to the next round is by no means simple, as many scenarios could play out for or against Germany.

Ideally, Germany would need a victory and hope Spain defeated Japan. But, to state the obvious, a win for Japan would eliminate both Germany and Costa Rica, while a loss or draw for Flick’s men would send them packing.

Team News & Tactics

Costa Rica

Luis Fernando Suarez may have wanted to keep the lineup intact, but he could make changes. Defender Francisco Calvo will miss the clash with a suspension after picking his second yellow of the World Cup against Japan.

The Costa Rica head coach called upon young defender Daniel Chacon in the latter stages against Japan, and he did admirably at the back. Yet, Suarez will likely go with experience and may call upon Juan Pablo Vargas to reinforce the backline. If the manager proceeds with a back five, Chacon might have a place in the team.

Meanwhile, there could be a place in the team for Jewison Bennette. The Sunderland man got dropped to the bench against Japan. But neither Gerson Torres nor Anthony Conteras were impressive. Hence, Suarez might recall Bennette.

With ageing veterans likely to take the mantle in the tough clash against the Germans, Suarez will have to rely more on the system and a back five to keep the opposition quiet. Contreras is likely to lead the line from the front, with a midfield four in support behind him.

Probable Lineup (5-4-1):Β Navas; Fuller, Duarte, Vargas, Watson, Oviedo; Torres, Borges, Tajeda, Campbell; Contreras

Germany

After a terrible first half against Spain, Hansi Flick might consider making critical changes to his lineup. Leroy Sane provided a boost after returning to fitness and coming off the bench to good effect in the last game. The Bayern Munich attacker could get a run out in the team.

Sane could replace Serge Gnabry on the left flank, with Jamal Musiala switching to the right side of the attack. Thomas Muller could stay in the team as his experience would prove critical in breaking down a stubborn Costa Rica defence.

Flick will have to make a critical decision on the frontline. Either he continues deploying Muller as the no.9 or pushes him behind the central striker, where he could prove effective. In the latter scenario, goalscorer Niclas Fullkrug could lead the line for Germany. Alternatively, the manager might look to keep him as an impact substitute.

Meanwhile, Ilkay Gundogan could go back into central midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich. Flick will ponder over bringing Nico Schlotterbeck and replacing Niklas Sule. Meanwhile, Lukas Klostermann is also looking to displace Thilo Kehrer at right-back.

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

Key Stats

  • Costa Rica and Germany last played each other at the 2006 World Cup, with Die Mannschaft running out 4-2 winners.
  • Costa Rica have three wins from their last six games across all competitions.
  • Costa Rica have won consecutive World Cup games only once, which came during the 2014 World Cup.
  • Germany have only two wins from ten games across all competitions.
  • Germany are yet to win a game in this edition of the World Cup.

Player to Watch

Thomas Muller

The experienced Bayern Munich attacker will be a crucial presence for Germany in the final game of Group E. Muller should lead the German attack by example and set the tone for a win over Costa Rica to qualify for the next phase of the World Cup.

Germany have prolific players in the team but somehow have not forced the issue at the World Cup yet. While Niclas Fullkrug rescued the team with a late equaliser against Spain, Germany need a concerted charge to score more than one strike in games. For this purpose, Muller will be critical with his contributions.

Prediction

Costa Rica 0-3 Germany

Germany have taken their sweet time to find the rhythm, which they did late against Spain. The equaliser proved vital in keeping their hopes alive in the competition. Germany will prove a ruthless force against Costa Rica.

Los Ticos have thoroughly struggled on the attacking front and got lucky against Japan. While they remain thankful for that goal in the previous game, Germany will afford them no favours. Die Mannschaft could bulldoze through this clash and stand a solid chance to advance. Hansi Flick’s men will further hope for Spain to beat Japan in the other Group E fixture.

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