Spain face Germany on Sunday night in a mouthwatering group stage game between two former World Cup champions.
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The pair began the 2022 edition in wildly contrasting circumstances. While Spain romped to their heaviest-ever World Cup victory – walking in seven goals against Costa Rica – Germany fell to one of their most surprising defeats, giving up a half-time lead to Japan.
With the prospective of a second consecutive group stage elimination looming for Germany, here's everything you need to know about a lofty, high-stakes clash.
Table of Contents
A bout of flu had peppered the Spanish squad ahead of their stroll against Costa Rica. Both Alvaro Morata and Dani Carvajal missed training due to illness but the pair made it onto the bench, with Morata notching Spain's seventh of the afternoon as a substitute.
Luis Enrique made all five of his allotted changes with more than 20 minutes left to play, resting half of his outfield starters perhaps with Sunday in mind – though trying to second-guess Enrique is a thankless task.
Spain Starting 11 (4-3-3): simon; Carvajal, Laporte, P Torres, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; F Torres, Asensio, Olmo.Bench: Sanchez, Raya, Azpilicueta, Garcia, Guillamon, Llorente, Koke, Rodri, Soler, Morata, Williams, Pino, Sarabia, Fati, Balde.
Leroy Sane was the only member of Hansi Flick's squad that didn't make the bench against Japan while he nursed a knee injury. The Bayern Munich wide man has been limited to individual training and his involvement this weekend is mired in uncertainty.
Germany Starting 11 (4-2-3-1): News; Kehrer, Rudiger, Schlotterbeck, Raum; Gundogan, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Musiala; Havertz.Bench: Ter Stegen, Trapp, Bella-Kotchap, Ginter, Sule, Klostermann, Goretzka, Brandt, Gotze, Adeyemi, Hofmann, Fullkrug, Moukoko.
This is a meeting between two teams that know little else aside from having a monopoly of possession.
Some of Spain's best performances under Enrique have come against nations that try to take the game to them, giving La Roja an opportunity to demonstrate the quality of their pressing as well as their passing.
Germany may deliberately let Spain win the battle for the ball and try to exploit the bevvy of fleet-footed forwards of Flick's disposal to penetrate the space behind Spain's adventurous approach.
In what is set to be an intriguing contest which may be far more even than their opening results may suggest, this heavyweight duo could slug out an entertaining draw.
Prediction: Spain 2-2 Germany
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back on France '98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup' series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!
If you can't see the podcast embed, click here to download or listen to the episode in full!
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