In its opening fixture of the FIFA World Cup 2022, 4-time winners Germany will face the former Asian champions Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, with Spain and Costa Rica being the other two teams in Group E.
While hopes remain high as always, Germany is not listed among top favourites to win the world’s greatest sporting contest following a humiliating first-round exit in the previous World Cup, despite going in as the defending champions. Germany finished at the bottom of its group 4 years ago and has since tumbled out from the top-10 of the FIFA rankings to be placed in 11th spot at the moment. Nevertheless, Germany is widely expected to get into the last 16 from Group E but there is bound to be some apprehension within the team, particularly for those who were part of the squad at Russia 2018.
Japan is set to make its 7th straight appearance at the FIFA World Cup since its debut in France 1998. Japan gave its best display in the history of the competition after reaching the last 16 at Russia 2018.
Japan nearly earned a spot in the last-8 but conceding a last-minute goal resulted in a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat against European powerhouse Belgium even though it had held a 2-0 lead at one stage. But progressing from its group will be an extremely difficult challenge this time around, especially with a couple of former world-champions also in the mix.
Read EagleBet’s top FIFA World Cup 2022 betting predictions and tips below.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Betting Predictions – Sponsored by Sportaza
Sportaza Betting Odds: 1.50
Last 5 Matches Performance: D W L D W
Germany will be heading to its first major tournament since appointing Hansi Flick as the head-coach back in August 2021. The former Bayern München boss took over from long-serving manager Joachim Löw with Germany in disarray after losing 2 of the first 3 matches in the UEFA qualifying-phase. The 57-year old Flick made an instant impact as Germany went on to win all the remaining 7 fixtures to finish on top of Group J besides becoming the first team outside the home-nation to confirm its entry for Qatar 2022.
With an average-age of 26.7, there is a healthy mix of youth and experience within the Germany squad. While 4 individuals in the Germany team are above 30 years in age, there is an equal number that are 20 or younger while the vast majority of the players lie in the 24-29 age-bracket and are therefore enjoying their peak-years. On the flipside however, a lot of these players have not been at major tournaments before so the veterans will have a key role in keeping the morale high if the going gets tough, although the humidity could be an issue for them.
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will have to warm the bench again as Manuel Neuer is certain to start in goal for this game. Antonio Rüdiger and Niklas Süle will be the central-defensive partnership but there has not been a settled first-choice pairing for Germany in quite a while which remains the main area of concern for Hansi Flick. So Thilo Kehrer could be chosen ahead of Jonas Hoffman in the right-back slot to add some extra protection with David Raum being a marauding fullback on the left-side of the defence.
The vastly experienced Ilkay Gündogan is likely to get the nod over Leon Goretzka as the midfield partner for Joshua Kimmich who will act as the anchorman in front of the backline. Leroy Sané will start on the left-wing with his Bayern teammates Serge Gnabry on the right-flank and Jamal Musiala in a free-roaming no.10 role. Kai Havertz might have to play as the makeshift centre-forward since Youssoufa Moukoko and Niclas Füllkrug have only got a couple of international-caps between them.
Probable Germany Starting XI: Manuel Neuer (gk), Antonio Rüdiger, Niklas Süle, Thilo Kehrer, David Raum, Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gündogan, Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Kai Havertz.
Sportaza Betting Odds: 6.00
Last 5 Matches Performance: D W W D L
Hajime Moriyasu served as the assistant for Akira Nishino before becoming the head-coach of Japan when the latter stepped down from the post at the end of the previous World Cup. Japan had to endure some difficult moments in the AFC Third Round qualification after suffering 2 defeats in the opening 3 matches. But Japan was able to bounce back strongly by winning the rest of its 7 fixtures to comfortably seal its berth for Qatar 2022.
The 26-man squad for Japan is among the oldest in the tournament with an average-age of 27.8 years. While a few members have been part of multiple World Cups, the team is largely untested at this level with more than half of the squad having less than 25 caps to their name. Yet this should be a major hurdle since the majority of the players are plying their trade in Europe, particularly the German Bundesliga. So they are extremely familiar with the opposition and this could be a major advantage for them.
There is good depth within the Japan squad in almost every position but Shiuchi Gonda looks to be the first-choice keeper of the side. Ko Itakura and Maya Yoshida are expected to be the centre-back pairing especially for this clash since both are first-choice for their respective Bundesliga clubs. There are plenty of options in the fullback positions but Takehiro Tomiyasu is the frontrunner to get the nod at right-back with the 36-year old Yuto Nagatomo starting on the left side of the defence.
Wataru Endo will probably be unavailable for this fixture after suffering a concussion so Gaku Shibasaki and Hidemase Morita could form the central-midfield combination. Attacking-midfield is the strongest area of this team with Ritsu Doan starting on the right-wing and Takumi Minamino on the left while the in-form Daichi Kamada takes the no.10 role. However, the team lacks a natural goal-scorer therefore Takuma Asano may be deployed as a withdrawn centre-forward considering the big stakes of this clash.
Probable Japan starting XI: Shiuchi Gonda (gk), Ko Itakura, Maya Yoshida, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Yuto Nagatomo, Hidemase Morita, Gaku Shibasaki, Ritsu Doan, Takumi Minamino, Daichi Kamada, Takuma Asano.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Top Betting Tips
Match Result & Total Goals: Germany & Over 2.5 at 2.14 on Sportaza
With a star-studded line-up in the forward areas, Germany should at least get a couple of goals on its way to taking all 3 points from its opening game. While Japan is a fairly organised team, it might still have to leave empty-handed from this clash but there is enough attacking talent in this side to pinch a goal against Germany.
Germany to Score in Both Halves: Yes at 2.20 on Sportaza
Being the heavy favourite in this encounter, Germany is more than likely to score in both halves of the game, especially with all the attacking ability at its disposal. Japan is a fairly solid team on the defensive-front with a lot of experience yet it might still be unable to stop Germany from scoring in both halves of this match.
Anytime Goal Scorer: Serge Gnabry at 2.54 on Sportaza
Serge Gnabry proved to be a crucial component for Germany during the World Cup qualification process with 5 goals and 2 assists in 8 appearances. The Bayern München forward has come into this FIFA World Cup in hot form after netting 4 goals in his last 2 league-matches prior to boarding the flight for Qatar.
FIFA World Cup 2022 Extra Betting Tips
2nd Half Both Teams to Score: Yes at 3.20 on Sportaza
2nd Half Correct Score: Germany 1-1 Japan at 7.20 on Sportaza
Germany 2-1 Japan at 8.20 on Sportaza
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