There were contrasting emotions for both of these past World Cup winners in their respective openers, with Germany surrendering a comfortable lead to lose to Japan, while Spain pulled off a confidence-boosting 7-0 win over hapless Costa Rica. As such, there is already serious, serious jeopardy in this mouthwatering clash.
Hansi Flick would have been happy with his side’s performance in the first half against Japan. They largely controlled the tempo and were seldom troubled at the back, save for a rightly ruled out Daizen Maeda finish. But, after the restart, the Samurai Blue channeled their inner Saudi Arabia to produce a turnaround of epic proportions against a heavyweight nation. The result means Germany need to get a win against Spain, or it could be curtains.
Luis Enrique’s men weren’t in the mood to play victims in the World Cup’s early script-defying drama. Spain were ruthless and cut-throat against Costa Rica, producing a record-breaking 7-0 win to lay down an early marker of their intent. The real acid test is Sunday, though, and Germany will still be licking the wounds from the 6-0 defeat they suffered in the Nations League the last time they met in 2020.
There are points on the line, and scores to settle.
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Ferran Torres got his World Cup campaign off to a flyer on Wednesday after registering a brace against Costa Rica. He should feel confident of taking that form into Sunday’s game, particularly as he scored a hat-trick the last time these nations met in that aforementioned 6-0 win for Spain in the 2020/21 Nations League.
Germany, though, have plenty of attacking prowess themselves to hurt their European counterparts. Ilkay Gundogan has now bagged nine goals his last 22 games for Germany following his penalty against Japan. It’s a stark contrast to his first 42 caps, in which he only scored eight goals, and underlines his emergence as a scoring threat later on in his career.
The notable recent fixture is that 6-0 win for Spain two years ago, but these nations also have previous in the World Cup. In 2010, Carles Puyol bagged a goal 20 minutes from time to seal Spain a semi-final win in South Africa en route to their eventual triumph. The only Germany player who remains from that day is Manuel Neuer, while Sergio Busquets started in midfield for Spain.