FEATURE | Spain’s 2022 World Cup group, predictions and teams

It isn’t long now until the world’s eyes descend on Qatar as football’s main event kicks off in November.

Spain have been drawn into Group E alongside Costa Rica, Germany and Japan. It’s a tricky-looking group for Luis Enrique’s men and one that surely can’t be taken lightly.

The 2010 World Cup winners will be looking to replicate their famous win twelve years on. They are the highest ranked side in the Group, currently ranked 6th. Germany are 11th, while Japan and Costa Rica sit 24th and 34th respectively.

Spain kick off their World Cup journey against Costa Rica on 23 November. It will be the first meeting between the two nations since a 5-0 win for Spain in a friendly played in Málaga in November 2017.

Luis Enrique’s team will then face Germany in Al Khor four days later. This will be the fifth time that this fixture has been played in a World Cup. The Germans have two wins to Spain’s one and one draw, but what the Spaniards wouldn’t give for a repeat of the heroics of 2010.

Vicente Del Bosque’s side secured a place in the final at the expense of Germany. Carlos Puyol’s header 17 minutes from time sprang wild celebrations in Durban.

La Roja will conclude their group on 1 December when they come up against Hajime Moriyasu’s Japan side. It’s another World Cup first and only the second time in history that the two nations will meet.

The only other game between the two was a 1-0 friendly win given to Spain by Valencia’s Rubén Baraja, who scored a last-minute winner in Córdoba in 2001.

Regular viewers of the Spanish leagues will recognise a few players for Spain’s opponents when battle commences in November.

For Germany, there is of course Barcelona’s netminder Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Real Madrid’s new centre-back Antonio Rüdiger.

Japan may also have a few familiar faces playing in their colours as well. Midfielders Gaku Shibasaki, Takefusa Kubo and Kento Hashimoto all play their domestic football in Spain.

Kubo has been in the country for the last three years having been signed by Real Madrid in 2019. He had loan spells at Mallorca, Villarreal and Getafe before joining Real Sociedad this summer, where he has hit the ground running with a goal on his debut as his side beat Cádiz 1-0 on the opening day.

Costa Rican goalkeeper Patrick Sequeira may be in his country’s squad against Spain. The 23-year-old signed for Segunda outfit Lugo in the summer but has yet to feature for them this season.

As far as predictions go, you can’t really look past Spain and Germany to qualify for the knockout phase. However, Japan and Costa Rica aren’t just there to make up the numbers. Los Ticos’ dumped out England and Italy in the group stage in 2014.

To top the group? Spain should do it. If they can get through the next two Nations League games without defeat, that will make it 10 unbeaten going to Qatar.

Will it be a successful World Cup for Spain? It can’t be any worse than 2018 surely.


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