World Cup 2022: Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Germany in action on Thursday

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Thursday is a big day for European teams in Qatar, with Croatia, Belgium, Spain and Germany playing their final games in the World Cup Groups E and F.

Any two of the four teams in Group E could still qualify, with Spain currently leading on four points, Japan and Costa Rica level on three and Germany bottom with one.

In Group F, the already-eliminated Canada will face a relatively relaxed Morocco, while Croatia needs only one point to earn its World Cup last 16 spot.

Here’s our at-a-glance guide to Thursday’s World Cup action: 

Croatia v Belgium (16:00)

  • Belgium, one of the pre-tournament favourites, must beat 2018 runners-up Croatia on Thursday to guarantee progression to the knockout stages.

  • The under-performing Belgians are currently third in the group with three points, following a lacklustre tournament that has seen Roberto Martinez’s team labour to a 1-0 win over Canada, before a shock 2-0 defeat to Morocco.

  • After losing to Morocco the squad and staff sat down for a meeting in which views were aired, but Timothy Castagne denies they were crisis talks within a squad where the confidence levels are “six to seven” out of ten.

  • Group F leader Croatia only need a point to advance to the last 16.

Canada v Morocco (16:00)

  • Morocco is likely to play a rather relaxed game on Thursday, as Canada was eliminated last Sunday. 
  • It is relatively simple for the Moroccans — a win or a draw and they will progress regardless of what happens in the Belgium v Croatia match.
  • But if Canada won the match, things

would become more complicated for Morocco, as the team would then need Croatia to lose by at least two goals more than they do, or for Belgium to lose in order to progress out of the group.

  • If Morocco were to lose by four goals or more, then a draw in the other group match would knock them out too.
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Japan v Spain (20:00)

  • Spain is clearly favoured to win Thursday’s match against Japan, but so was Germany — and that didn’t end well for the European team.

  • Japan started the World Cup with a surprise 2-1 win over Germany but followed up with a loss 1-0 to Costa Rica.

  • Japan must win to be sure of advancing, but a point against Spain would also be enough if Germany and Costa Rica also draw.

  • If Spain manages to bring home a victory on Thursday, there’s a chance it might win Group E.

  • Luis Enrique’s men are top of Group E after thrashing Costa Rica 7-0 before being held to a 1-1 draw by Germany.

  • Japan’s manager Hajime Moriyasu said he wants players to “do their best” against Spain.

Costa Rica v Germany (20:00)

  • Four-time world champion Germany will be facing Costa Rica, which lost 7-0 to another European power, Spain, on November 23.

  • With three points, same as Japan, and behind the leader Spain, Costa Rica is trying to reach the first round for the third time in six World Cup trips.

  • Costa Rica reached the round of 16 for the first time in Italy 1990 and reached the quarterfinals in Brazil 2014.

  • The match is crucial for Germany too, as the team has not been very impressive so far in Qatar — losing 2-1 to Japan in an earlier match — and needs a victory to progress.

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