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Group E: What each team needs to qualify for the round of 16 of the World Cup

Each team has played two games and with just one remaining in the group, we consider how the nations are placed to reach the knockout stage.

Germany's forward #13 Thomas Mueller takes part in a training session at the Al Shamal Stadium in Al Shamal, north of Doha on November 30, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Costa Rica and Germany. (Photo by Ina Fassbender / AFP)

Spain head into the third and final group game in an enviable position - they top Group E, one of the toughest at Qatar 2022 but face a fight to remain there as they take on Japan in Al Rayyan later today. Hajime Moriyasu’s side is the only team with a realistic chance of knocking La Roja off top spot - although they would need to beat them to do so. That suggests we could be in for a close contest at Khalifa International stadium - a game that neither want to lose. A draw would suit Spain but not Japan - they still depend on what happens in the other game between Costa Rica and Germany.

Out of all the teams in Group E, Germany are under the most pressure. Hansi Flick’s team have yet to win, lie at the foot of the table with just one point and more worryingly, are having trouble scoring. Unless they respond today, Die Mannschaft could find themselves knocked out at the group stage for the second consecutive time - a rare event. Germany and Costa Rica have met just once previously - during the group stage in 2006 which ended in a 4-2 win for the hosts.

As it stands, all of the four teams in Group E go into the final game with a chance of qualifying for the Last 16 as there are a number of different permutations.

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As it stands, La Roja lead the way in the group on four points. Behind them are Japan and Costa Rica both on three and then the Germans on a single point. A draw would be enough take Luis Enrique’s men into the next round - because if the Costa Rica-Germany game ends in a draw or a German win, Spain would still have a superior goal difference in both scenarios. Spain could still be eliminated if they lose to Japan and Costa Rica beat Germany.


The Samurai Blue have shown they are a solid, compact side in their two group games but they will need to defend well to get a result against Spain. The only surefire way of advancing to the next round is by beating Spain. A draw would be enough if Germany beats Costa Rica by one goal and then Japan would go through on the head-to-head. If Germany beats Costa Rica by more than one goal and Japan’s game with Spain ends level, the Germans will progress on goal difference.

Costa Rica

A win will see Costa Rica advance. The Central Americans will also go through if they draw against Germany and Spain beats Japan. If both games end level, Costa Rica will bow out on goal difference.


In simple terms Germany have to win if they are to have any chance of progressing and even then, they will be reliant on what happens in the other game. They also need Spain to beat Japan. If they draw, they’ll be on their way home.