DOHA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) — Groups E and F come into focus on Thursday, with places in the last 16 up for grabs. Here are four things to look out for on the 12th day of action in Qatar.
1. Spain to change faces but not style
Although Spain are not 100 percent assured a place in the last 16, their goal difference means even a defeat to Japan will probably be enough to see them into the next round.
Coach Luis Enrique will make changes to his starting 11, with Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, and perhaps others, rested and Koke, Alejandro Balde and Alvaro Morata into the starting 11.
Although the faces may change, one thing that is nonnegotiable for Spain is their passing style. The starting 11 will be different, but the football and the ambition will remain the same.
2. Germany to go for goals against Costa Rica
Niclas Fullkrug’s 83rd minute strike against Spain gave Germany a World Cup lifeline, but the Germans are by no means out of trouble. A draw between Japan and Spain would leave them needing to beat Costa Rica by at least two goals, while a Japanese win would leave them needing to better Spain’s 7-0 win against Costa Rica to qualify.
Fullkrug looks certain to start alongside Leroy Sane as Germany go for goals against a rival that reacted well to beat Japan and who will reach last-16 if they can win.
3. Can the Belgians cure internal strife to save World Cup future?
Even though they scrambled a fortunate win against Canada, Belgium’s World Cup campaign is under threat after a dire performance saw them lose 2-0 to Morocco.
If Morocco beat Canada, (who are already eliminated) Belgium will have to beat Croatia (who have four points) in their final group match to stay in the tournament.
The press has been filled with stories of arguments between senior Belgium players and that is not the best preparation to play Croatia, who themselves need to avoid defeat in order to progress.
4. Morocco have great chance to reach last 16
Senegal flew the flag for Africa on Tuesday when they beat Ecuador to reach the last-16 of the tournament and Morocco have the chance to do so again. A win against Canada will qualify Walid Regragui’s side for the knockout stages and with the Canadians only playing for pride, they have to be favorites.
Morocco have a side based on players who earn their living in important European leagues and their progress (if it happens) shouldn’t surprise anyone.