After their stunning 2-1 underdog win against Germany on matchday one, many had assumed that Japan would follow up that three-point haul with three more against Costa Rica in their second match of the tournament.
But as we know, football can be a cruel game: even though they dominated their match against the Central American nation, they fell to a late 1-0 loss that sees them enter this final clash against Spain likely needing a win to progress to the Round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup.
That’ll be extremely difficult to manage against a Spain side who only need a point to progress from Group E and will want another win to top the group. With eight goals to their name across their two matches, it wouldn’t surprise if the 2010 winners added to their tally further here.
Japan vs Spain odds
It’s clear that the bookmakers are expecting an easy win for Spain in this match with them being priced at -250 to taste victory.
At +700, Japan are definitely worth a flutter for those who love a fairy-tale finish but, in all likelihood, Luis Enrique’s side should prove far too strong for them here even if he rotates his team to rest key players with qualification all but assured.
With strength in depth at his disposal and with him knowing that Japan will likely need to win here to progress, Luis Enrique will have his side well drilled heading into this final match to give nothing away defensively but to be ready to pounce when the opportunity affords itself.
As they showed through their seven-goal performance against Costa Rica on matchday one, the Spain forwards can prove lethal on their day and they should again be the difference here as they look to top Group E.
Odds via BetMGM (USA), Sports Interaction (Canada), SkyBet (UK), and Ladbrokes (Australia).
to score Y / N
|+100 / -135||1.90 / 1.71||10/11, 4/5||10/11, 4/5|
|Over / Under|
|-145 / +105||1.71 / 2.07||4/6, 11/10||4/6, 11/10|
Japan vs Spain: 3 things to know
Japan vs Spain team news
Japan look set to be without defender Hiroki Sakai through injury, but Takefusa Kubo and Ao Tanaka look likely to return to the starting XI, as Hajime Moriyasu’s injury picture improves.
Luis Enrique is set to rest skipper Sergio Busquets, with the Barcelona captain a potential suspension risk for the last 16 and Atletico Madrid’s Koke ready to step into his spot. He could also rotate elsewhere to give other players a well-earned rest and with Alvaro Morata pushing to start after his superb goal off the bench against Germany.
Japan vs Spain key stats
- These two sides have actually only ever met once before with Spain taking a 1-0 victory in a friendly back in 2001.
- Spain have won eight of their past nine final group-stage matches, though the exception to that did come in 2018 with a 2-2 draw with Morocco.
- Spain are unbeaten across their past seven World Cup outings, whilst Japan are looking to avoid consecutive goalless tournament displays for the first time since 1998.
Japan vs Spain match facts
- Date: Thursday, December 1
- Kickoff Time: 2 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. GMT / 6 a.m. AEDT (Fri, Dec. 2)
- Location: Khalifa International Stadium
- Official: Victor Gomes (South Africa)