Germany’s defeat to Japan sent shockwaves around the Football world. With all due respect to Japan, Germany was unfortunate to have nothing to show for their opening game. Expected Goals favoured Germany by 3.73 to 2.03, and Germany enjoyed 74% of possession on Matchday 1. Having averaged 76% possession in qualifying, Spain surpassed that, with 82% against Costa Rica and, belying the inexperience of the third-youngest squad in the tournament, didn’t allow their opponents a shot on, or off, target.
This is the only meeting between two of Football’s genuine superpowers in the Group Phase. Historically things couldn’t be much closer, with Germany having won nine times, Spain has recorded eight wins, and eight draws between two of Football’s big hitters. The last time they met, seventh-ranked Spain routed 11th-ranked Germany, 6-0, with a seventh goal ruled out by VAR. A repeat of that scoreline is hugely unlikely, but any defeat will surely end Germany’s chances of a record-equalling fifth world title.