Costa Rica v Germany
Heading into the final Group E game, there’s plenty of permutations. Germany need a win against Costa Rica to have any chance of advancing to the knockout stages. In the event of a draw between Spain and Japan, Die Mannschaft would need to beat Costa Rica by at least two goals. If Japan beat Spain, it would be the nation with the better goal difference. Hansi Flick’s side must beat Costa Rica and hope that Luis Enrique’s Spain can do them a favour.
Costa Rica’s win was something of a fluke, the Central Americans snatching three points with their only shot on target of the tournament so far. They had the defensive quality to keep Japan at bay and are clearly much better than the 7-0 defeat at the hands of Spain showed, but this should still be a comfortable win for the Germans.
So far in the tournament, Germany have looked average. Despite 25 shots against Japan, they scored just one and that was from the spot. Flick chose Kai Havertz as Germany No. 9 but he was poor and hasn’t registered a shot on target. Defensively, Nico Schlotterbeck, the only left-footed central-defender in the squad, lacked confidence and physicality against Japan, losing his duel which resulted in Takuma Asano’s winner.
Against Spain, Flick dropped Schlotterbeck and opted for a defensive partnership of Niklas Süle and Antonio Ruediger, which appeared a significant upgrade. Thilo Kehrer came in at right-back but struggled against Dani Olmo and was substituted after 72 minutes, replaced by Lukas Klostermann who could be an option for Flick against Costa Rica. Havertz dropped to the bench, Thomas Müller played as the No. 9 and Flick opted for a midfield three, which remains an option going forward.
Flick will favour his 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 and won’t deviate at this stage in the competition. An improved defensive display with the central duo offering more stability, Flick and Manuel Neuer commended the defensive effort against Spain, allowing just three chances despite Enrique’s side, as expected, dominating the possession.
It’s in attack where Germany have problems. Havertz dropped to the bench and Müller played as the No. 9 against Spain. But as someone who plays his best football off a striker, he was isolated against Spain and didn’t have a single chance. He doesn’t have the pace to run in behind or physicality to hold the ball up and bring others into play.
An option for Germany is Niclas Füllkrug. He scored the equaliser against Spain that secured a vital point. As the highest-scoring German in Europe this season, Füllkrug has provided more of a threat in the 46 minutes he’s played at the World Cup than Havertz or Müller has. Füllkrug (3) has had more shots than Müller and Havertz (0) combined. Upon Leroy Sané’s introduction against Spain after missing the opening game, Germany have looked far more direct which also puts Müller’s place under threat.
Thursday’s game will certainly be a feisty one. Costa Rica go into the game knowing that a win would put them into the knockout stages. As shown against Japan, they won’t make it easy for Flick’s side, who will have their work cut out. Expect Germany to control the possession but they must improve in the final third. Germany were much improved against Spain but that will be for nothing if they don’t manage to beat Costa Rica.
Jamal Musiala is already making a claim for the Young Player of the Tournament. Every time Musiala gets the ball, he’s capable of making something happen. He’s created 3 chances in 183 minutes against Japan and Spain and has also taken 5 shots on himself. Of the attacking quartet, Musiala had the highest pass completion (88%) against Japan and only Serge Gnabry (52) attempted more passes Musiala’s 43 in the attacking quartet. Even when Germany saw very little of the ball against Spain, Musiala attempted the most passes (23) of any attacking player.
Against Costa Rica would be an excellent opportunity for Flick to start Musiala centrally, where he plays his best football. Musiala has scored 12 and created 10 in 22 games for Bayern Munich this season and assisted Füllkrug for his equaliser against Spain. Against a counter-attacking Costa Rica side, Musiala may be the player to unlock the defence.
Leon Goretzka trained individually on Tuesday but is expected to feature against Costa Rica. In 31 minutes against Japan, Goretzka recorded 1 shot and completed the full game against Spain, he was also credited with another shot in a game in which Germany had just 36% possession.
Expected to start alongside Bayern Munich teammate Joshua Kimmich, Goretzka is the engine room from midfield and he’ll always look to progress the ball from midfield. In his last 5 games for Germany and Bayern, Goretzka averaged 1.96 shots per 90. Germany are expected to dominate against Costa Rica, who will look to frustrate Germany with a low block whilst looking to counter, which could see a player such as Goretzka trying his luck from distance.
Kendall Waston is set to start as the left centre-back for Costa Rica. He will replace the suspended Calvo; who has had a booking and 3 fouls in both matches he played.
Waston came from the bench at half time against Spain and made 1 fouls. He was the most central of the defenders against Japan and made 0 fouls. He is set to play wider here and will be left more exposed. The quality of the opposition will also have a huge impact. Wave after wave of German attacks will no doubt lead to some sloppy fouls.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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