Spain vs Japan predictions and match preview for Thursday’s World Cup Group E fixture. Read on for analysis as Luis Enrique’s team target a place in the knockout stage.
|Thursday 1st December 2022
|World Cup Group E
Spain vs Japan Preview
Spain are on the brink of the last 16 of the World Cup and it would take an unlikely series of events for them not to make it on Thursday. A draw against Japan would guarantee qualification while a win would ensure they win the group.
Luis Enrique is likely to shuffle his pack and rotate some players here having been surprisingly consistent in team selection in his opening two games. That’s not something the Spain boss is known for but he would have been delighted with a dominant display in the 7-0 win over Costa Rica and relatively content with the draw against Germany too, a good result in the overall context of the group.
There are still questions regarding how this eleven will continue to take shape in this game and throughout the tournament assuming Spain do progress. Marco Asensio has been trusted as a false 9 so far but Alvaro Morata has come off the bench to score in both games and will be hoping for a start. Dani Olmo will feel as though he has done enough to secure his place in the side despite plenty of other wide options while it’s questionable whether or not Rodri will continue in central defence or whether Luis Enrique may opt for a more natural defender here and moving forwards.
Japan meanwhile come into this with three points so far with a surprise win over Germany followed by a surprise defeat to Costa Rica. They elected to leave out a host of seemingly key players in the last match which confused many but they do still come into this game 2nd in the group and with their destiny in their own hands.
It was always going to be a tall order for them to progress from a group with two European giants but they showed against the Germans that they are a team capable of creating chances and opening up defences. They have lots of technically sound players and some pacy forward and wide players, so Spain certainly cannot afford to underestimate their opponents here.
Simon – Balde, Laporte, Torres, Azpilicueta – Gavi, Rodri, Pedri – Sarabia, Morata, Ferran (4-3-3)
Gonda – Itakura, Yoshida, Tomiyasu – Nagatomo, Morita, Kamada, Yamane – Ito, Asano, Minamino (3-4-3)
Score Prediction: Spain 2-1 Japan
Spain’s squad depth is one of their main strengths and that could be important here with Luis Enrique likely to take the chance to rotate and rest some players. They will still be feeling confident from those opening two games and ought to have enough to win this game but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near as comfortable as the opener.
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