Japan vs Spain — Preview

Match Preview

Spain’s victory in their opening game against Costa Rica was about as comprehensive as a major tournament win gets. They managed 17 shots while allowing zero, and eight of those attempts were on target. They had 5 corners, while Costa Rica had none, and La Roja had 82% possession in a 7-0 win. They enjoyed 64% of the ball against Germany but were pegged back, with Álvaro Morata’s opening goal cancelled out by an 83rd-minute leveller. Japan stunned Germany in their opening game but came back to earth when suffering a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Costa Rica. Spain sit 7th in the FIFA Rankings, 17 spots ahead of their opponents.

Japan’s coach Hajime Moriyasu made five changes in Matchday 2, despite his team’s epic result against Germany and he seems to be toying with the idea of playing three at the back, rather than his longstanding 4-2-3-1 formation. In contrast, Luis Enrique only made one change for Spain’s second game, from the team that put seven past Costa Rica and will almost certainly opt for 4-3-3 once more. The only previous meeting between these sides saw Spain record a narrow 1-0 win in a friendly, in 2001. A win or a draw will put Spain into the last 16, and eliminate Japan, for whom three points guarantees a place in the knockout stages.

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