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What Spain needs to qualify for the World Cup Round of 16: all possible outcomes

One group game to go and top of Group E, how well placed are Luis Enrique’s men to advance to the knockout stage?

Spain's coach Luis Enrique (L) talks with players during a training session at the Qatar University training ground in Doha on November 30, 2022, on the eve of the Qatar 2022 World Cup football match between Japan and Spain. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

You can follow the live action of the game between Spain and Japan on

Spain got their 2022 World Cup campaign off to a flying start by thrashing Costa Rica 7-0 in their opening game. In doing so. La Roja grabbed the attention of those who hadn’t previously noticed the talented young players in Luis Enrique’s squad. They followed that up with a 1-1 draw against Germany - despite the Iberian side looking the brighter for much of the encounter. Now thoughts turn to what is now required in the third and final game in Group E.

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Spain need a single point, but want a win

As it stands, La Roja lead the way in the group on four points. Behind them are Japan and Costa Rica on three points each and then the Germans on a single point.

A draw for Spain in the final game against Japan is enough to take them through, but a win would ensure they take top spot, potentially giving them an easier match-up in the round of 16.

If they were to lose against Japan, and Qatar is proving to be a tournament of surprise results, then they would need the other game, between Die Mannschaft and Los Ticos, to end in a draw to be sure to proceed in second place to the Asian side. If, however, Spain were to lose and Costa Rica beat Germany, the Spaniards would have to pack their bags early.

Goal difference comes into play if Spain lose and Germany win, but it would need a 7-goal swing to see Asensio, Olmo, Pedri et al exit at the first stage.


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