FIFA World Cup 2022 Preview Part Five – Group E

By Ian John
November 14, 2022

We are now into the final week ahead of the start of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

On Sunday, the host nation will entertain Ecuador in the opening match of the tournament, which will see 32 teams compete across 64 games in total to decide who earns the right to call themselves the 2022 FIFA World Cup Winners.

This week, we will continue our World Cup countdown with a look at Groups E, F, G and H ahead of the start of the tournament.

We have already covered what our predictions are for Groups A, B, C and D last week.

In the fifth in our series of eight articles, we will be focusing on Group E which features two European Giants who are both previous winners of the World Cup, and amongst the most fancied teams to eventually lift the trophy.

They will be facing teams from Asia and Central America who are very much pegged to struggle in the group, but who have also shown themselves well capable of an upset in previous World Cup Finals tournaments

Bet365 Sport has all the latest betting on which of these four teams will eventually triumph in Group E and we’ll bring you news on the odds available later in the preview.

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Now let us begin our countdown with a look at the four teams that will be competing to qualify from Group E.

Group E

  • Spain
  • Costa Rica
  • Germany
  • Japan

Group E Fixtures

  • 23rd Nov – Germany v Japan – Khalifa International Stadium (1pm)
  • 23rd Nov – Spain v Costa Rica – Al Thumama Stadium (4pm)
  • 27th Nov – Japan v Costa Rica – Ahmad bin Ali Stadium (10am)
  • 27th Nov – Spain v Germany – Al Bayt Stadium (7pm)
  • 1st Dec – Japan v Spain – Khalifa International Stadium (7pm)
  • 1st Dec – Costa Rica v Germany – Al Bayt Stadium (7pm)

Similar to Group D, Group E is expected to be dominated by two of the giants of European Football in 2010 World Cup winners Spain and four times World Cup Champions Germany. Indeed, it would be a huge shock if both do not qualify from this group relatively comfortably.

That’s because while Japan and Costa Rica have got decent squads they don’t have the strength in depth or quality that the two European sides have and it does look an uphill struggle for either of these teams to make an impact in this group.

However, it is worth noting that both have enjoyed shock results in World Cup tournaments in the pat. Costa Rica finished as quarterfinalists in the 2014 World Cup Finals in Brazil, while Japan have reached the knockout phase previously too, including in the last World Cup back in 2018.

That said, this does look to be a very tough prospect for both teams and it would be a huge surprise if the Spanish and Germans do not make it through this group relatively comfortably.

Spain

  • Manager – Luis Enrique
  • Captain – Sergio Busquets
  • Best World Cup Performance – Winners (2010)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Round of 16
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 7th
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – DWWLW

Spain’s Probable Best XI – (4-3-3) – Simon (GK), Carvajal (DR), Gaya (DL), Pau Torres (DC), H.Guillamon (DC), Rodri (MC), Busquets (MC), Gavi (MC), Torres (AMR), Sarabia (AML), Morata (AC)

Much has been made about the quality of players Luis Enrique has not selected for this World Cup with the likes of David de Gea, Sergio Ramos and Thiago Alcantara left out of his squad. Instead, Enrique has opted for a younger squad, with just a few more experienced heads alongside a crop of talented youngsters.

However, when you look at this Spain squad, while it is blessed with some great potential, it doesn’t look like a team that is set to make a realistic challenge at the World Cup this year. There are too many players aged from 17 to 22 in the squad, that Spain are going to be reliant upon, in order for me to see them as genuine contenders.

Of course, they’ll play lovely football and keep the ball exceptionally well like they always do, but do they have the attacking threat to see off the likes of Germany and some of the other very big teams they will face in the knockout phase of the tournament?

That I am not too sure about but I feel Spain will pick up two wins in this group, although they may find it tougher against Germany and could just be pipped into second by the Germans on goal difference.

Costa Rica

  • Manager – Luiz Fernando Suarez
  • Captain – Bryan Ruiz
  • Best World Cup Performance – Quarter Finals (2014)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Group Stage
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 31st
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – LWWDW

Costa Rica’s Probable Best XI – (4-4-2) – K.Navas (GK), C.Martinez (DR), B.Oviedo (DL), F.Calvo (DC), O.Duarte (DC), C.Borges (MC), D.Chacon (MC), G.Torres (MR), J.Bennette (ML), Contreras (AC), Campbell (AC)

This Costa Rica team is a mix of younger players and some very experienced stars who will be playing in yet another World Cup. The likes of Oviedo, Navas, Ruiz and Campbell have been at several World Cup tournaments, and this may well be their last real chance to make an impact on the World Stage.

What is clear with this team is that they are well organised, disciplined and despite not having too many stars that are famous around the world, they certainly are a good example of a team that is stronger than the sum of its parts. That makes them a tricky prospect.

I can’t see any team giving Costa Rica an absolute thrashing, but I can see them struggling against Germany, given the pace of the German attack and how quickly they hit teams. However, I think Costa Rica match up well against Spain and Japan and could give those two opponents a real game.

I can’t see them qualifying from this group, but I do think they may snag a point from somewhere, perhaps from their game with Japan.

Germany

  • Manager – Hansi Flick
  • Captain – Manuel Neuer
  • Best World Cup Performance – 4 x Winners (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014)
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Group Stage
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 11th
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – DDWLD

Germany’s Probable Best XI – (4-2-3-1) – Neuer (GK), Kehrer (DR), Raum (DL), Scholotterbeck (DC), Rudiger (DC), Kimmich (DMC), Gundogan (DMC), Sane (AML), Gnabry (AMR), Musiala (AMC), Havertz (AC)

This is a really interesting Germany squad for the World Cup. I think in terms of goalkeepers, Germany have arguably the best trio to pick from. They have excellent options in midfield and in attack, but they lack an out and out number 9 and defensively, there are still question marks about the team, with a heavy reliance on young players.

Of course, Germany will be amongst the favourites to win the tournament and I expect them to do well in this group as I feel that they match up well against the teams they have been drawn against. I can see them picking up at least seven points and having the firepower to top the group.

Beyond that, I worry that defensively they will be found out by better teams, but I do expect them to reach at least the quarterfinals stage and would not be surprised by another semifinals appearance.

Japan

  • Manager – Hajime Moriyasu
  • Captain – Maya Yoshida
  • Best World Cup Performance – Round of 16
  • World Cup 2018 Performance – Round of 16
  • Current FIFA Ranking – 24th
  • Current Form (Last 5 games) – WdWWd

Japan’s Probable Best XI – (4-2-3-1) – Gonda (GK), Sakai (DR), Nakayama (DL), Tomiyasu (DC), Yoshida (DC), Endo (MC), Morita (MC), Minamino (AMR), R.Doan (AMC), T.Kubo (AML), Furuhashi (AC)

Japan’s hopes for this World Cup lie in the collective ethos of a team that has won plenty of admirers at previous World Cup tournaments, as have their fans. That said, Japan is still blessed with some talented individuals who can turn a game in their favour.

What I do note about this Japan squad is while it may not have quite as many higher level players in it, it does have much greater depth than previous Japanese squads and with more of their players playing at a high level in European competition, as well as across Asia and South America, I think this may be the strongest squad Japan have had for a World Cup.

The problem they have is being drawn in a group alongside Spain and Germany, who are two of the strongest teams in the tournament and that means that they are going to be struggling to make an impact in the group.

Japan will finish third or fourth in the group, with their match against Costa Rica likely to decide which of the two options will be correct. Anything more than that would be a huge surprise.

Group E Prediction & Tips

  1. Germany – (11/10 to win the group)
  2. Spain – (To Qualify – 1/9)
  3. Japan
  4. Costa Rica

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