Having been on the end of a stunning result in their first match against Japan, Germany were just minutes from defeat against Spain. However, to use one of Football’s favourite clichés: never write off the Germans. Sure enough, Die Mannschaft responded with a late equaliser. In fairness, they were unfortunate to lose against Japan — Expected Goals favoured Germany by 3.73 to 2.03, and they enjoyed 74% of possession. They had a lot less of the ball against Spain — as most teams do — with just 36% possession — but managed four shots on target to their opponent’s three, including Niclas Füllkrug’s 83rd-minute equaliser. Teams often put together a vastly improved defensive effort after a heavy defeat and, after conceding seven to Spain, Costa Rica kept a clean sheet against Japan. It took Los Ticos 170 minutes to record a shot in this World Cup but, although they only had one shot on target against Japan, it ended up in the back of the net.
11th-ranked Germany sit twenty places ahead of their opponents in the FIFA Rankings. After their loss to Japan, coach Hansi Flick resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes. He opted to retain a 4-2-3-1 formation and made two personnel alterations. He did make a couple of positional adjustments, the most significant of which was replacing Kai Havertz with Thomas Müller up front. The only previous encounter between these two nations saw Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the opening game of the 2006 tournament. A repeat of that win would keep German hopes of reaching the knockout stages alive, though they would still need Spain to beat Japan. An unlikely win for Costa Rica would send them through, while a draw would leave them needing a Spanish win in the other match in order to progress.