Two teams with renewed hopes of survival will battle it out for a knockout stage spot when Germany and Costa Rica lock horns in Thursday night lights.
Die Mannschaft played out a 1-1 draw against Spain in their previous match, while Costa Rica bounced back from their 7-0 thrashing against Luis Enrique’s men with a 1-0 win over Japan.
Japan came off of one of their most memorable World Cup victories as they took on Costa Rica.
Los Ticos were on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. They were humbled 7-0 by Spain, and their World Cup future appeared bleak.
But football works in mysterious ways. Costa Rica held their own against a lively Japanese, and they were rewarded for their hard work in the end. Keysher Fuller rattled the back of the net with nine minutes from time, much against the run of play.
Japan could not get back into the game and Costa Rica left the pitch with the full three points.
Luis Fernando Suárez’s men now have full control over their World Cup fate.
They will not have to worry about the permutations if they manage to beat Germany. If they draw, they would need Spain to win against Japan.
After the opening-day defeat against Japan, another World Cup group stage exit seemed to be the likeliest outcome for Germany.
They were underdogs against a rampant Spanish side, who had put six past Germany two years ago. After Álvaro Morata put Spain ahead right after the hour mark, German fans felt their team had reached the end of the tunnel.
Niclas Füllkrug’s 81st-minute strike let a faint ray of light shimmer in. Germany kept their hopes alive with a 1-1 draw.
If they manage to win against Costa Rica by a two-goal margin, they will be through if Japan draw against Spain. If Spain win, any margin of win will suffice. But Germany have no option but to win in their final game.
Costa Rica will not get Francisco Calvo against Germany since the centre-back is suspended for picking up two yellows in two matches.
Juan Pablo Vargas might deputise for him at the Los Ticos rearguard.
Jewison Bennette might get a chance to improve Costa Rica’s attacking threat.
Germany winger Leroy Sané returned from his injury and made an appearance off the bench against Spain.
The Bayern Munich star could be in contention to start the match.
Niclas Füllkrug will feel he deserves a starting role over Thomas Müller, and manager Hansi Flick might feel likewise.
Costa Rica had to hold off Japan’s attack over prolonged periods, and they might have to deal with a similar situation against Germany.
The four time World Cup champions did not hit their best form in attack in this World Cup, but they enough ammunition in their arsenal to breach the Costa Rican defence.
We are expecting a 2-0 win for Germany.
Date: 2 December
Kickoff: 12:30 AM IST
Venue: Al Bayt Stadium