Japan’s place in the Round of 16 and Germany’s shock World Cup exit could be confirmed on Sunday in Qatar, but first the Samurai Blue must beat Costa Rica.
Takuma Asano’s decisive goal against 2014 World Cup winners Germany sent a shock Qatar trip to Berlin and left Hansi Flick’s side needing a result against in-form Spain to stay in contention.
To put the pressure on Germany, Japan now know that if they beat Costa Rica, who were demoralized by the Spanish after a 7-0 thrashing, they could secure a return to the knockout stages of the World Cup for the first time. their history.
Below are the projected lineups for both teams based on the latest pre-match reports.
Japan vs Costa Rica lineups
Costa Rica’s implosion against Spain could be partly blamed on their team being in a transitional phase, with a mixture of raw inexperience and veterans in their squad.
Coach Luis Fernando Suarez may opt to bring Brian Ruiz, their 37-year-old captain, into the attack from the start for some tournament know-how. The striker played the final 30 minutes against Spain.
Japan will look to capture more of what the Germans couldn’t handle in the opener, though some niggling injuries could force minor changes.
Below are the projected starting lineups for both teams ahead of their match at Ahmed Bin Ali Stadium on November 27.
Japan projected starting 11
(4-2-3-1, right to left): 12. Gonda (GK) — 2. Yamane, 4. Itakura, 16. Yoshida, 5. Nagatomo — 7. Tanaka 6. Endo — 14. Ito 15. Kamada 11. Kubo — 18. Asano.
- Injured: Sakai
Hiroki Sakai was substituted off with 15 minutes of the opener remaining, and has skipped training with a hamstring problem since. The fullback said: “My feeling is not so bad but the decision [to play] is for the coach.”
Takuma Asano‘s fitness was a concern in the build-up to the World Cup but after coming off the bench and scoring the winner against Germany, he now looks ready to start.
Costa Rica projected starting 11
(5-4-1, right to left): 1. Navas (GK) — 16. Martinez, 15. Calvo, 6. Duarte, 4. Fuller, 8. Oviedo — 12. Campbell, 5. Borges, 17. Tejeda, 9. Bennette — 7. Contreras.
- Injured: None
- Suspended: None
Costa Rica’s star man, goalkeeper Keylor Navas, was an injury concern in the build-up to the World Cup but despite the misery of conceding seven goals, he didn’t seem to be struggling with any physical issues against Spain.
Surprisingly, Suarez is expected to stick with the team hammered by Spain, having urged those players to raise their game.