Germany coach Hansi Flick talks to his players during training. | Image Credit: Reuters
When the 2022 FIFA World Cup draw came out in April, one of the highlights of the group stage was the Spain vs. Germany on Sunday at Al Bayt Stadium.
Eight months later, the game between the two former world champions and pre-tournament favorites became more prominent because of Germany’s shock loss to Japan in its opener in Qatar.
Another defeat against Spain this weekend and Germany could go home early for a second World Cup in a row. Defeat – along with at least one draw by Japan against Costa Rica last Sunday – would mean elimination for the four-time champions.
Spain, meanwhile, will be looking to secure their place at the next stage and strengthen their status as one of the top title contenders following an impressive 7-0 thrashing of Costa Rica in their opener.
The signs are not encouraging for Germany. Its most recent match against Spain was a humiliating 6-0 defeat in the Nations League two years ago. Its last win against “La Roja” came in a friendly eight years ago.
Germany won its fourth World Cup title in 2014 in Brazil but missed out on the group stage in 2018 after losing to South Korea and México. It will be the first time it has failed to get past the group stage in back-to-back tournaments.
Spain won its only World Cup in 2010 in South Africa and was eliminated in the round of 16 in 2018 in Russia. A win against Germany would allow Spain to enter the last 16 if Costa Rica fails to beat Japan.
Expectations on Spain’s young team have been raised after their excellent performance against Costa Rica, with the team reintroducing a “tiki-taka” style of ball possession and the 18-year-old Gavi became the youngest World Cup scorer since Pelé in 1958.
King Felipe of Spain meets with Spanish national football team player Paez Gaviria after Spain beat Costa Rica 7-0 at the Al Thumama Stadium in Doha on November 23, 2022. | Image Credit: Getty Images
The seven goals it scored against Costa Rica matched Spain’s tournament total from Russia in 2018.
“The result gives us a big boost,” said coach Luis Enrique of Spain. “But today we have to play against a Germany team that needs a victory.”
Luis Enrique said he was not worried about his young players being overconfident, and promised to make changes to the starting lineup for Sunday’s match, without elaborating.
Winger Leroy Sané could return for Germany after missing the Japan match with a knee injury. He returned to training on Friday, when Germany coach Hansi Flick was able to work with his full 26-player squad.
This is the fifth meeting between the powerhouses at World Cups, with Spain winning the most recent one 1-0 in the semifinals of the 2010 tournament.
Spain have not lost to Germany in official competitions since the 1988 European Championship, with two draws and three wins since then.
The Germans had lost three of their last four World Cup matches heading into the tournament in Russia.
They made headlines before kickoff against Japan by covering their mouths to protest FIFA’s clampdown on “One Love” armbands. It is unclear if they will repeat the gesture before the match against Spain.
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