We’ve only reached matchday two of the 2022 World Cup, yet Germany stand on the precipice of a calamitous group stage elimination for the second tournament in a row ahead of today’s crunch Group E tie against Spain.
Talk of recurring nightmares for Die Mannschaft has been circulating following the German’s shock 2-1 reverse to Japan, though they should expect little sympathy from seven-goal Spain as La Roja aim to book their place in the knockout phase.
This evening’s tussle is a bet-builder’s dream and below, you can find the scoop on everything you need to know about xG, cards, corners, shots, shots on target and more from the sides’ World Cup qualification and group matches. You can learn more about how to get the most value from our research in my Stats Pack Guide.
In keeping with Spanish traditions, Luis Enrique sent his team out in a 4-3-3 formation on Wednesday, though the lack of a central focal point in La Roja’s attack seemed to bamboozle Costa Rica’s defenders.
Barcelona trio Sergio Busquets, Gavi and Pedri clocked over 250 passes between them in midfield against Costa Rica and Germany will have to find a way to get to grips with Spain’s ability to dominate possession in midfield.
Kai Havertz was ineffectual at centre-forward against Japan, and even though Germany’s options for that position are light, the 23-year-old has been dropped.
Spain’s free-flowing attacking football understandably dominated headlines after their 7-0 demolition job on Costa Rica, though La Roja were also outstanding defensively and they were the only team on matchday one not to concede a single shot.
That robustness at the back served Spain well during their qualification campaign when they allowed opponents to muster a measly 1.88 shots on target per 90 against them.
Spain’s corner count against the Costa Ricans was in line with their qualification average and for a team that tends to dominate possession, their tally for this particular set piece is unusually low. With such a diminutive team, however, it’s easy to conclude that winning corners probably isn’t all that high on their list of priorities.
Germany pulverised most of their opponents during their qualification push, winning a superb 90% of their ten fixtures while netting 3.6 times per 90 along the way.
The Germans’ xG figure of 3.15 per 90 was sky-high and Die Mannschaft actually trumped that expected goals haul against Japan despite their eventual defeat (3.73).
Incredibly, Germany racked up more attempts in that loss (26) than Spain did in their rout of Costa Rica (17). In fact, no other side had as many attempts or attempts on target as the Germans on matchday one.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Spain’s fluid frontline of Dani Olmo, Marco Asensio and Ferran Torres hit 11 of La Roja’s 17 shots against Costa Rica between them and that trio’s figures during the World Cup qualifiers suggested they were always likely to make an impact.
That fearsome threesome along with midfielder Gavi were the only members of Spain’s XI to impact the attempts tally, though Carlos Soler and Alvaro Morata peppered five shots between them off the bench.
Germany found it difficult to contain Japan’s buzzing forwards at times on Wednesday, so it will be interesting to see how they handle a Spanish attack that’s also powered by pace and movement.
Germany fired 26 at Japan in midweek, though two of their front four, Thomas Muller and Kai Havertz, failed to register a single attempt between them.
Instead, the majority of their threat came from deeper positions. Ilkay Gundogan and Joshua Kimmich – who both performed well in the shots stakes during qualifiers – lodged six and four attempts respectively, while qualification hot-shot Serge Gnabry racked up six.
Centre-half Antonio Rudiger got on the end of two set piece deliveries against Japan and added a third attempt with a punt from distance. The 29-year-old is fond of those, so check out his prices today.
Player Goals and Assists
Spain’s seven-goal bounty against Costa Rica had six different contributors and their top scorer during qualification, Ferran Torres, helped himself to a brace at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Torres scored one of his goals from the spot and as Spain’s designated penalty taker, the 22-year-old could be a sound anytime scorer choice. today There have been nine penalties awarded in just 18 World Cup matches so far.
18-year-old Gavi arguably notched the pick of the lot against Costa Rica with a volleyed finish in the second half for his third international goal and first (of many) at a World Cup and he seemed to have more licence to roam forward than his midfield counterparts.
Ilkay Gundogan was joint-top scorer for Germany during their qualification campaign and the Manchester City stalwart opened his World Cup account -with what proved to be a consolation – from the spot against Japan.
The woodwork denied Gundogan a second however, before the frame of the goal also foiled Serge Gnabry.
Leroy Sane bagged six goal contributions in nine qualification appearances for Germany and the 26-year-old could be a real handful for Spain if he is fit enough to start today. Sane is already into double figures at club level for Bayern Munich after just 19 runouts in all competitions and he has the pace to trouble veteran Spanish full-back Cesar Azpilicueta.
Germany offer plenty of zip on the counter attack and veteran Spanish trio Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Cesar Azpilicueta could be the ones exposed by Die Mannschaft’s pace during transitions.
Azpilicueta gave away two free kicks despite having little defensive work to do against Costa Rica, while Sergio Busquets – who has been carded over 125 times during his career – and Jordi Alba, who is also a card centurion for club and country – are generally worthy of inclusion on coupons whenever they play.
Silky schemer Jamal Musiala was fouled more often than any other German player during his country’s World Cup qualifiers and the teenager was picked out for punishment by Japan on matchday one. Musiala was fouled three times by the Blue Samurai’s players and Sergio Busquets will be out to curtail his creativity by any means possible today.
On the flanks, Bayern Munich duo Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry share a skill set that could torment ageing Spanish fullbacks Azpilicueta and Alba, who have a combined age of 66.
Match-Ups to watch
Sergio Busquets vs Jamal Musiala
Jordi Alba vs Serge Gnabry
Cesar Azpilicueta vs Leroy Sane
Joshua Kimmich is all hustle-and-bustle at the base of Germany’s midfield and his fouls per 90 figure during qualifiers (2.33) suggests he should be watched closely during skirmishes later today.
Germany’s defenders will be anticipating an uncomfortable evening at the Al Bayt Stadium, where Antonio Rudiger (2 cards in qualifiers) and David Raum (one foul vs Japan) could be overworked by the clever movement and exploitation of space of the Spanish forwards.
Gavi’s ferreting about in midfield can frustrate his more senior opponents and the youngster – who was one of Spain’s most kicked players in qualifiers – was fouled a whopping five times against Costa Rica. Joshua Kimmich will be on his case this evening.
Dani Olmo and Ferran Torres were fouled 1.73 and 1.65 times per 90 respectively during La Roja’s World Cup qualification adventure and the combination of wit and technique both wield should allow them to draw fouls – and possibly cards – from their German markers.
Match-Ups to watch
Joshua Kimmich vs Gavi
David Raum vs Ferran Torres
Antonio Rudiger vs Dani Olmo