Spain and Germany meet in Group E of the World Cup on Sunday, while Japan will be looking for back-to-back victories against Costa Rica.
Belgium can qualify for the round of 16 with victory over Morocco, while Croatia will try to make Canada’s coach eat his words when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.
Lionel Messi helped Argentina kick off their campaign with a 2-0 win over Mexico on Saturday, as Poland beat Saudi Arabia to leave Group C open. France became the first nation to reach the knockout stage after beating Denmark, while Australia kept qualification in their hands after overcoming Tunisia.
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Flick tries to improve
Having seen his side make headlines both through their pre-match outcry and subsequent defeat by Japan in their opening Group E fixture, Germany coach Hansi Flick knows he cannot afford a sub-par performance against Spain if he wants to avoid another World Cup early Exit.
“We talked about the match. We are really convinced of our philosophy, how we want to play football and, of course, we will try to do better” flick said.
After Spain secured a comfortable 7-0 victory over Costa Rica, coach Luis Enrique is expecting a much tougher test. “We are facing an opponent against whom we cannot be too confident otherwise they will hammer us,” he said.
Samurai Blue goes again
After upsetting the four-times world champions to start the tournament strong, Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu wants his side to be fully focused again when they face Costa Rica.
Moriyasu knows you’re only as good as your next game, which is when Costa Rica will try to restore some pride. “Past success must be forgotten, as there is no time for complacency,” he said.
Danger in the rut
Eden Hazard may have struggled for form and fitness with Real Madrid so far this season but is looking forward to returning to World Cup action for Belgium against Morocco as Roberto Martinez’s side aim to build on early win against Canada.
“So far I feel great,” said Hazard. “I played 65 minutes, I played well, but I think we can all improve as a team.”
Croatia seeks some respect
Canada boss John Herdman ruffled more than a few feathers in Croatia’s court with his choice words at a post-match team meeting following the Belgium match. “I told them they belong here. And we’re going to defeat Croatia,” was the sanitized version of Herdman in a post-match interview.
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic will need little chat with his squad to motivate his squad, as the 2018 runners-up are aiming to improve following a 0-0 draw with Morocco. “This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” he said.
Messi leaves his mark
Classy moments from Lionel Messi and substitute Enzo Fernandez helped Argentina secure their first Group C win after beating Mexico 2-0 on Saturday night.
Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski’s first goal in a World Cup finals sealed Poland’s 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia, but only after ex-Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny made a brilliant double save on Saudi rigor.
Allez Les Blues
Kylian Mbappe scored twice as world champions France knocked out Denmark 2-1 to secure a place in the knockout stage with a game to spare.
In Saturday’s other Group D match, a stunning header from Mitchell Duke secured Australia a 1-0 win over Tunisia, keeping qualification in their own hands.
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Group E: Japan v Costa Rica (10am, ITV1)
Group F: Belgium v Morocco (1pm, BBC1)
Group F: Croatia v Canada (4pm, BBC1)
Group E: Spain v Germany (7pm, BBC1)