Group E of the 2022 FIFA World Cup has two former winners in Germany and Spain, and joining them are Japan and Costa Rica, respectively. 

The group initially had three confirmed qualifiers when the draw was made on April 1st, with the identity of the fourth one was revealed just last June 14 when the Ticos booked the last spot via a playoff. 

Four venues will be used in their matches on November 23, November 27 and December 1: Al Bayt Stadium in Al Khor, Doha’s Al Thumama, the Khalifa International and Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan. 



Key players: Alvaro Morata, Unai Simon 

How they qualify: Group B winners, UEFA first round 

Best World Cup result: Champions – 2010 

  • Luis Enrique will have a deep pool of talent that will contest the 26 spots to Qatar. The former Barcelona boss has quality players in all positions, and it will all boil down to form, injuries and even luck. 
  • Spain might get the answer from their goalkeeping question, with Athletic Bilbao’s Unai Simon inching closer to be La Roja’s number one. Apart from that, the forward line might be led by Morata and PSG’s Pablo Sarabia, who had scored four goals this year. 



Key players: Manuel Neuer, Joshua Kimmich, Kai Havertz 

How they qualify: Group J winners, UEFA first round 

Best World Cup result: Champions – 1954, 1974, 1990 (as West Germany), 2014 (as reunified Germany) 

  • In typical German ruthless fashion, the four-time winners were the first to qualify for the World Cup, firing in a seven-game winning streak and only losing once at home to North Macedonia. Head coach Hansi Flick will have more time to tinker on as they also have a load of talent, as all football powerhouses do. 
  • Looking to forget the horror of 2018 where they were dethroned as World Champions in the worst way possible, Bayern teammates Manuel Neuer and Joshua Kimmich will set their sights on the revenge mission, and the forward line of Havertz, Timo Werner and 2014 titlist Thomas Muller are set to be their sources for much needed goals. 



Key players: Takuma Asano, Maya Yoshida, Takefusa Kubo 

How they qualify: Group B runners-up, AFC Third Round 

Best World Cup result: Last 16 – 2002, 2010, 2018 

  • The Samurai Blue is looking to end their alternating pattern of group stage and knockout stage since they first qualified in 1998. Four years ago, they were just a proper clearance away from making it to their debut quarterfinal, but wilted in the biggest Belgian comeback in Rostov. 
  • While manager Hajime Moriyasu will lean on the combination of Bochum’s Asano and Mallorca’s Kubo for scoring and creativity, the veteran leadership of captain Yoshida and 39-year-old goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima will also serve them in good stead, and they needed more of those to become a legitimate spoiler in their group. 



Key players: Keylor Navas, Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz 

How they qualified: Inter-confederation playoff winners – def. New Zealand 

Best World Cup result: Quarterfinal – 2014 

  • The Ticos went on a seven-match unbeaten run to take the final playoff spot in the CONCACAF’s Octagonal, then needed a third minute strike by the former Arsenal man to fend off the All Whites in Al-Rayyan for the final spot in the World Cup, their third successive qualification. 
  • Luis Fernando Suarez will lean from three of the key men from their 2014 squad, as it hopes to produce another upset in this tournament. 

Marquee match: Spain v Germany 

The clash of the European titans will be in Al Khor on November 27, more than a dozen years since their epic semifinal in South Africa where Carles Puyol’s header sent them on their way to their maiden World Cup. 

Flick and Die Mannschaft are looking to get even at their Iberian counterparts and it’s not just the three points that they are looking for, as well as getting a more favorable draw in the knockout phase. 

Who will qualify? 

Simply with their quality and talent alone, German and Spain are the overwhelming favorites to go out of the group. The other important question is just the positioning, in which they will settle it on November 27. 

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