Group E: Japan’s Big Chance!
Spain is more than likely going to advance, alongside Germany, into the next round. The Spanish passing engine is better than ever, things are looking good, and this is going to be a cruise-control expedition of elegance for millions of Spanish fans that will be eagerly awaiting the knockout rounds.
Costa Rica. Who are we kidding? Get your bags ready, board the plane, and head home! This won’t last long. Costa Rica is good but this group is not looking prosperous for Cosa Rican fans. No disrespect to Costa Ricans, but this group stage is going to be merely a formality of three losses in a row. The problem with Costa Rica is that Ruiz and Campbell have “lost their fastball” in recent years. Due to age and injury, these two phenoms, who are quite extraordinary talents, aren’t what they used to be. And frankly, the team is riding on their expertise. Without them, this group is a well-intentioned plane ticket waiting to happen. Predictions. Germany will win 5-0. Spain will win 5-0. Japan will win 1-0.
Germany, like Spain, should waltz through onto the next round. Germany is powerful, well-equipped with superb passing, strong defense, and the finishing touch of the speedster Timo Werner. Outside of mentioning every Superstar on the team, this is a group expected to go far this tournament. Spain will present an obstacle. Costa Rica will be an easy win. And Japan will be a very fascinating opponent.
Japan—who has a ton of talent, including that of Takumi Minamino—is the clear wild card. While Costa Rica is expected to lose big, and lose big it will, Japan has a few tricks up its sleeve. The question is: can the Japanese manage to pull an upset over Spain or Germany? It’s very possible as Japan has emerged as one of Asia’s top talents in the past 20-30 years. Japan makes this group extremely interesting and it should cause a lot of worry for Spain and Germany.
Spain and Germany are tournament leaders. Expect these two to lead the group. However, when you have big expectations you might, from time to time, have some problems. Don’t mention the failure of World Cup 2018 to Germany. However, that bad experience should serve as great motivation for this team of all-stars in 2022. Japan will likely come in third place, while Costa Rica inevitably will finish last. But there’s something about Costa Rica. As they say, you never know. In fact, Costa Rica might just be the most interesting to watch as it has a lot to prove. Does it belong? Is it good enough to be here? Can it qualify for the Round of 16? I say no. But you never know. What’s more, Japan is a program on route to greatness; it needs a big break at the World Cup level to move closer to the ultimate goal: a World Cup title. So, watch for Japan as a team on the brink of something special. The problem for Japan this time around is that it has some fierce competition. Back to Spain and Germany: a standard of greatness for teams like Japan to catch up to. Spain and Germany are expected to reach the semis. These early matches will be a hint of things to come for Spain and Germany. Most fans just assume the semis are waiting for Germany, and probably Spain. Though it’s never guaranteed. How far can each team go? This group will provide many clues.