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Germany fight for World Cup survival as Japan eye next shock

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Germany defender David Raum and his teammates need to beat Costa Rica for 'Die Mannschaft' to avoid crashing out of the World Cup at the group stage for a second successive tournament. AFP

Germany fight for World Cup survival as Japan eye next shock

Germany face Costa Rica on Thursday (at 2am Cambodian time) as they face a fight to avoid the humiliation of another first-round exit at the World Cup.

Despite being holders, Germany were eliminated at the group stage four years ago in Russia, and they are desperate to avoid a repeat when they play Costa Rica in Group E.

The Germans suffered a stunning opening defeat to Japan but salvaged a draw with Spain in their next game.

Germany must beat Costa Rica to stand a chance of progressing, and even then goal difference could still be a factor.

Costa Rica began their campaign on the wrong end of a 7-0 defeat to Spain but they proved their mettle with a subsequent 1-0 win over Japan and are still in contention to qualify.

Germany coach Hansi Flick laughed off suggestions he would lose his job if his side crashed out.

"You never know what's around the corner, but I am looking forward to Germany's home European Championship [in 2024]," he said. "I have a contract until 2024. But that's still a long way away."

Spain are not yet assured of their place in the last 16 – a loss to Japan (also at 2am) would put the Japanese through and could allow Germany or Costa Rica to overtake them.

Japan will try to pull the plug on Spain's "computer game" football, with the Blue Samurai eyeing their second major upset of the tournament.

Japan beat Germany in their opening game of Group E, and they will book their place in the last 16 if they can add Spain to their collection of scalps.

Victory will not come easily for a Japan team who came under pressure for long periods against Germany and stumbled to a stodgy 1-0 loss to Costa Rica in their second game.

Coach Hajime Moriyasu is wary of Spain's threat but backed his players to spring another surprise.

"Tomorrow is going to be a high-pressure game for our players but they must believe in themselves and in their team-mates," he said Wednesday.

"It's always an important match – that never changes. If the players can play to 100 per cent of their potential then the result will follow."

Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda said Spanish players are "good at being in the right place at the right time" and warned his teammates to have their wits about them.

"People say Spain play like a computer game because they play in such a consistent way – they have a style and a plan of attack that they stick to," he said.

"I don't think they're going to change that depending on the opponent. They'll stick to what they do."

Both teams are likely to feature several of the players who met in the semi-finals of last year's pandemic-delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Spain won that game 1-0 after extra time but coach Moriyasu believes his players are ready to take revenge in Qatar.

"It was very disappointing and both myself and the players are still frustrated about it," he said.

"I think the players have developed since then and I hope we can get a result to celebrate this time."