The Open Group E: Watch Germany, Japan

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By Gerald Lutchman

THIS group has some serious history and battles. Germany, Spain, Japan and Costa Rica. It may seem that Germany and Spain are the clear favourites but do not count out the Japanese. Qatar can be the rise of Asians in world football. The Japanese are skilled, fast and very disciplined. It took a great Belgian side in 2018 to knock them out. This time they may reach further in the knock out rounds.

World Cup Group E fixtures and match schedule:

Wed, Nov. 23 Germany vs Japan 9 am Khalifa Int’l
Wed, Nov. 23 Spain vs Costa Rica 12 am. Al Thumama
Sun, Nov. 27 Japan vs Costa Rica 6 am Ahmad Bin Ali
Sun, Nov. 27 Spain vs Germany 3 pm Al Bayt
Thurs, Dec. 1 Japan vs Spain 3 pm Khalifa Int’l
Thurs, Dec. 1 Costa Rica vs Germany 3 pm. Al Bayt



The wonderful fluent team that dominated the world before are no more. La Liga is in shambles and the Spanish team is very weak compared to the past. I do not expect them to come out of this group. This is a transitional team and we should not expect too much from this side. Even though they have Pedri (Barcelona of Spain), Rodri (Manchester City of England), Aymeric Laporte (Manchester City of England), it will not be enough.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 7 (November 2022)

  • World Cup titles: 1
  • World Cup appearances: 15
  • How qualified: UEFA Group B winners: 6W-1L-1D
  • Coach: Luis Enrique (Spain) since November, 2019


This is a strong side and like all German teams do not underestimate them. Especially if they make it out of this group.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 11 (November 2022)

  • World Cup titles: 4
  • World Cup appearances 19
  • How qualified: UEFA Group J winners: 9W-1L-0D
  • Coach: Hansi Flick (Germany) since July, 2021

They have players like Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich of Germany), Kai Havertz (Chelsea of England), Serge Gnabry (Bayern Munich of Germany) and will hope they click as a group in the tournament. I expect them to top the group but Japan will be a tough nut to crack.


The Asian qualifiers are usually not given much hope in the tournament. This year will be different. if there is fair refereeing then Japan will top this group. I think they are a team that should not be taken lightly. They made mistakes against Belgium in 2018 but they will not repeat them in this tournament.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 24 (November 2022)

  • World Cup titles: —
  • World Cup appearances: 7
  • How qualified: AFC Third Round Group B winners: 7W-2L-1D)
  • Coach: Hajime Moriyasu (Japan) since August 2018

Key players: Takumi Minamino (Monaco of France), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal of England), Maya Yoshida (Schalke of Germany)

Costa Rica

This team from our CONCACAF made it by beating New Zealand in a playoff. This tournament represents one of the weakest representations by our region. I do not expect them to reach out of the group and the other teams will look to collect points and a positive goal difference from them.

Current FIFA world ranking: No. 31 (November 2022)

  • World Cup appearances: 5
  • Coach: Luis Fernando Suarez (Colombia) since July, 2021

They will call up: Bryan Ruiz (Alajuelense of Costa Rica), Joel Campbell (Leon of Mexico), Celso Borges (Alajuelense of Costa Rica) to help them avoid embarrassment.

Overall this is a hard group with three possible teams fighting for two spots. Goal difference will be a key factor.

Follow me exclusively on AZP News for a look at all the groups before the world cup starts. Leave a comment to let me know if you think my predictions are correct.


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