The second match of the day in the FIFA World Cup on Wednesday sees Group E getting underway and it does so when the former champions Germany take on a Japan side who will be looking to make an immediate impression on the tournament.
Germany are widely expected to qualify with a bit in hand from this group and if that is going to happen then they will be keen to get off to a winning start here but Japan have the potential to be awkward opponents.
Where to watch
This match will be shown live and in full on the ITV 1 channel in the UK with the build-up beginning at 12.10pm ahead of a kick off which comes at 1pm.
The illustrious history of Germany in tournament football needs no recollection but the question for them heading into this effort is whether this squad is capable of emulating previous ones given the injuries they have had. You would have to say it has been quite a while since Germany have looked really convincing and their form in 2022 has been fairly quiet by our expectations of them. They bombed out in the group stage in Russia four years ago and will be keen for a fast start here to banish those memories.
This is a fairly youthful Germany side, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the young talent they have in the country but you never truly know how young teams will cope on a stage of this magnitude until they are there. It does mean that they have a lot of pace in their side and that is never a bad thing to have. The question mark is whether their strikers are good enough to turn tight matches into wins or not.
This will be a seventh straight World Cup for Japan and although they haven’t really had that breakthrough tournament they are often competitive and always a pain to play against. You wouldn’t say that looking down at their squad this is as strong overall as the ones with the bigger players in the past but there is plenty of experience in it and a sprinkling of quality as they go about at least emulating a run to the round of 16 in Russia four years ago.
When you consider the way their campaign ended in Russia when they surrendered a two goal lead in a dramatic round of 16 match against Belgium, Japan won’t lack for fire in their bellies to go again here. We know they will be high energy but the question is whether they have the quality at the top end of the pitch without the injured Yuya Osako and then whether they have the physical strength at the back to keep the better teams out.
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Leroy Sane is expected to miss this opening match for Germany as he sustained a knee injury in training but Thomas Muller is fit as he bids to improve his already excellent World Cup record. Jamal Musiala will make his World Cup debut.
Japan have reported no new injury problems but they are without the focal point in their attack in Yuya Osako who misses the tournament with an injury. That might lead to Takumi Minamoto having a more prominent role in the side.
In the main this hasn’t been a high scoring World Cup but when the bigger nations have been involved the majority of matches have had goals in them and I suspect this one will follow that trend. Germany are a lot better going forward than they are defensively and with the quality they have up front I expect them to expose Japan but at the same time it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise in the world if Japan get some joy at the other end.
Germany failed to keep a single clean sheet in the Nations League and their shutout of Oman last week was their only clean sheet in eight outings so Japan should feel as though they can get something. There are definitely goals in this Japan team and I expect them to have a bit of a go here because they need to get something from the game to have a chance of qualifying. With an early goal this could turn into a very high scoring game like we saw Germany involved in during the Euros last year but even without it I fancy the goals will flow at some point.
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