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Today at the World Cup: Germany on the brink in Spain showdown

Germany head coach Hansi Flick could see his side crash out of the World Cup if the are beaten by Spain (Matthias Schrader/AP)
Germany head coach Hansi Flick could see his side crash out of the World Cup if the are beaten by Spain (Matthias Schrader/AP)

Spain and Germany go head to head in World Cup Group E on Sunday, while Japan will look to make it back-to-back victories when they face Costa Rica.

Belgium can book their place in the last 16 with victory over Morocco, while Croatia will be out to make Canada’s coach eat his words when they meet at the Khalifa International Stadium.

On Saturday, Lionel Messi helped Argentina get their campaign up and running with a 2-0 win over Mexico, while Poland beat Saudi Arabia to leave Group C wide open. France became the first country to reach the knockout stage after they beat Denmark, while Australia kept qualification in their own hands after edging past Tunisia.

Here, the PA news agency keeps on top of events in Qatar.

Flick seeks improvement

Germany v Japan – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group E – Khalifa International Stadium
The German players made a point to FIFA ahead of their World Cup opener in Doha (Mike Egerton/PA)

After seeing his side make headlines for both their pre-match protest and subsequent shock defeat to Japan in the opening Group E encounter, Germany boss Hansi Flick knows they cannot afford a below-par performance against Spain if they are to avoid another early World Cup exit.

“We talked about the match. We’re really convinced about our philosophy, how we want to play football and, of course, we’re going to try to do better,” Flick said.

After Spain coasted to a comfortable 7-0 win over Costa Rica, head coach Luis Enrique is expecting a much sterner test. “We are facing an opponent against which we cannot be overconfident otherwise they will hammer us,” he said.

Samurai Blue go again

Japan players celebrate victory over Germany at the World Cup
Japan celebrated a memorable victory over Germany in their opening World Cup game (Mike Egerton/PA)

Having upset the four-time world champions to start the tournament on a high, Japan boss Hajime Moriyasu wants his side fully focused again for when they face Costa Rica.

Moriyasu knows you are only as good as your next game – which is just when Costa Rica will be out to restore some pride. “The past achievement needs to be forgotten, as there’s no time for complacency,” he said.

Hazard in the groove

Eden Hazard might have struggled for form and fitness with Real Madrid so far this season, but he cannot wait to get back into World Cup action for Belgium against Morocco as Roberto Martinez’s side aim to build on their opening win over Canada.

“So far I’m feeling great,” Hazard said. “I played 65 minutes, I played well, but I think we can all improve as a team.”

Croatia looking for a little respect

Canada boss John Herdman ruffled more than a few feathers in the Croatia camp with his choice words in a post-match squad huddle after the Belgium game. “I told them they belong here. And we’re going to go and eff Croatia,” was Herdman’s sanitised version in a post-match interview.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic will need little team talk to get the team motivated as the 2018 runners-up aim to improve from an opening goalless draw against Morocco. “This way of putting words together is not a sign of respect,” he said.

Messi makes his mark

Moments of class from Lionel Messi and substitute Enzo Fernandez helped Argentina get their first win in Group C after beating Mexico 2-0 on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, Robert Lewandowski’s first World Cup finals goal sealed Poland’s 2-0 win over Saudi Arabia – but only after former Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had produced a brilliant double save from a Saudi penalty.

Allez Les Bleus

Kylian Mbappe scored twice as world champions France saw off Denmark 2-1 to book 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 which keeps qualification in their own hands.

Picture of the day

Australia’s Mitchell Duke celebrates scoring at the World Cup
Mitchell Duke had a special message for his son watching in the crowd as he celebrated a crucial goal against Tunisia (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Tweet of the day

Who’s up next

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)