Two former World Cup winners — Spain and Germany — are the plain favorites to advance, and their assembly on Nov. 27 is the marquee match of the primary spherical. Stingy Japan has a stable squad and is the extra possible of the opposite two groups to upset the pure order if one of many giants slips up. As for getting older Costa Rica, surviving the primary spherical will likely be an exceedingly tall order.
Coach: Luis Enrique
Highest end: Winners (2010)
2018 end: Spherical of 16
FOX Guess odds: +800
Key gamers: Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Álvaro Morata
What we’re excited to observe: Spain has lastly moved previous their all-conquering golden era; Busquets, the captain, is the lone remaining participant from their 2010 World Cup successful squad. Enrique’s retooled La Roja is now prepared for his or her second.
What success appear to be: Whereas able to successful all of it, they’re most likely 4 years away from being a legit title favourite. That mentioned, a quarterfinal berth is the naked minimal.
Achilles heel: Historical past. For all their expertise and expertise, Spain has punched beneath their weight at World Cups, with 2010 the exception. They’ve by no means made it previous the quarters in 11 different match appearances.
X-Issue: Gavi. The 18-year-old playmaker has been an everyday for La Roja since making his debut final 12 months, and he has the potential to be a breakout star on the largest stage.
Three issues you could learn about Spain
Alexi Lalas offers us three issues we have to learn about Spain forward of the 2022 World Cup.
Coach: Luis Fernando Suárez
Highest end: Quarterfinals (2014)
2018 end: Spherical of 16
FOX Guess odds: +75000
Key gamers: Celso Borges, Joel Campbell, Keylor Navas
What we’re excited to observe: If Costa Rica is to advance in opposition to the chances, they will virtually definitely must win their second match in Qatar, in opposition to Japan on Nov. 27.
What success appear to be: Getting out of a gaggle this powerful could be a triumph.
Achilles heel: Age. There is not any getting round how lengthy within the tooth the Ticos are. Borges is 34. Navas is 35. Bryan Ruiz, Costa Rica’s all-time high scorer, is 37. Even Campbell is now on the incorrect aspect of 30.
X-Issue: Navas. The three-time UEFA Champions League winner hasn’t performed a minute for Paris Saint-Germain this season after dropping his beginning job. Which means the very best participant in Costa Rican historical past — he singlehandedly led the Ticos to the quarterfinals in 2014 — has one thing to show in Qatar.
Three issues you could learn about Costa Rica
Alexi Lalas offers us three issues we have to learn about Costa Rica.
Coach: Hansi Flick
Highest end: Winners (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
2018 end: Group stage
FOX Guess odds: +1000
Key gamers: Joshua Kimmich, Thomas Müller, Antonio Rüdiger
What we’re excited to observe: Other than a shocking loss to Hungary, Germany has been very good since Flick changed longtime supervisor Jogi Loew final 12 months. That is the World Cup, although. That match in opposition to Spain will inform us the place they actually stand.
What success appear to be: Germany goes into each main match figuring out it will probably win. As a lot as simply making a deep run would suffice after the shock of their group stage exit 4 years in the past (and the spherical of 16 loss to blood rival England ultimately 12 months’s Euros), Die Mannschaft will nonetheless be dissatisfied if they do not declare a fifth world title.
Achilles heel: Roster composition. It is a crew constructed to win the 2024 Euros on residence soil; the 2022 model is caught between two generations, with 30-somethings Muller, Manuel Neuer and Ilkay Gundogan on one aspect and youngsters Youssoufa Moukoko and Jamal Musiala on the opposite.
X-Issue: Moukoko. Simply 17, the uncapped striker already has 11 objectives in 44 Bundesliga appearances. After making the squad instead of injured veteran Marco Reus, he will likely be among the many youngest contributors in World Cup historical past if he steps on the sphere.
Three issues you could learn about Germany
Alexi Lalas offers us three issues we have to learn about Germany.
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu
Highest end: Spherical of 16 (2002, 2010, 2018)
2018 end: Spherical of 16
FOX Guess odds: +25000
Key gamers: Daichi Kamada, Takumi Minamino, Takehiro Tomiyasu
What we’re excited to observe: Japan relishes the underdog function and tends to exceed expectations. In 2018, they survived a gaggle containing Colombia, Poland and Senegal after which gave Belgium the whole lot they might deal with within the second spherical. Do not be shocked in the event that they upset certainly one of their embellished European foes.
What success appear to be: Making it out of the primary spherical at consecutive World Cups could be an unprecedented accomplishment for the Blue Samurai. Successful a knockout spherical match for the primary time could be even higher.
Achilles heel: Scoring. The 4 forwards on Japan’s 26-man roster have simply 10 worldwide objectives between them.
X-Issue: Protection. With a again line led by Arsenal middle again Tomiyasu and captain Maya Yoshida, Japan is ultra-disciplined and arranged defensively, making them extraordinarily troublesome for opponents to interrupt down. Groups that do not get scored on cannot get beat – even by the likes of Germany or Spain.
Three issues you could learn about Japan
Alexi Lalas offers us three issues we have to learn about Japan.
MORE GROUP PREVIEWS: GROUP A | GROUP B | GROUP C | GROUP D
Doug McIntyre is a soccer author for FOX Sports activities. Earlier than becoming a member of FOX Sports activities in 2021, he was a workers author with ESPN and Yahoo Sports activities and he has coated United States males’s and ladies’s nationwide groups at a number of FIFA World Cups. Comply with him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.
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