Dan’s World Cup Predictions Group E – Spain, Germany, Japan and Costa Rica

Spain

Spain play the Tika Taka style that once the world loved, but then grew bored of.

The story of the Spanish in recent tournaments is to dominate the ball, pass sideways in pretty patterns, but a failure to turn possession into chances. It’s like opponents learnt how to play Spain, inviting them to break them down.

This simply though is Spain’s ethos, principles they as a nation have grown up with.

Their thought process is you are more likely to win, the more you have the ball. That’s why from the youth set up they are taught the art of winning back the ball as quickly as possible.

Part of the Barcelona set up, Luis Enrique is very defensive of this outlook.

He will be aware they still lack that world class striker who can be relied on, meaning occasionally he will play a false number 9 (another Spanish tradition).

They have so many talented midfielders and their manager has not been afraid to trust youth.

In Pedri and Gavi they have candidates who can become household names.

During qualifying, their possession stats never fell below 60 percent.

Any team who can dominate the ball can beat anyone on their day.

They might lack that world class finisher to win them tight games

Predicted finish – Q Finals

Costa Rica

The core group who got to the last 8 of the 2014 World Cup are still around, but several youngsters have also burst onto the scene in the last couple of years, making it hard to know how Costa Rica will approach this tournament.

That’s thanks to Luis Suarez who took over as manager and almost immediately lowered the average age of the squad.

No exaggeration to say perhaps no side’s confidence is more based on their coach than Costa Rica.

Under the Colombian they won 6 out of their final 7 ConCACAF fixtures (drawing the other one) to qualify for Qatar, conceding just one goal.

Managing in his third World Cup there’s a belief in his adopted nation that he’s building a brighter future.

Expectation has been tampered by a hard draw.

Los Tocos pride themselves on being hard to score against, but they don’t face a Germany or Spain too often.

If underestimated, could cause an upset.

Issue will be they don’t score a lot either, and how many chances will they make in this group?

Predicted finish – Group stage

Germany

For the first time in 16 years, Germany are at a major tournament without Joachim Low. (Hansi Flick was part of his staff that lifted this trophy in 2014).

In truth on and off the pitch everything needed freshening up.

Germany are similar to Spain in terms of Flick has a philosophy that is refreshing, young players developing, and in general remain a nation that can beat anyone on their day.

Do they though have that world class number 9 who will make an impact in the tight games?

Germany have been through this process before, and you sense they at the start of a cycle building to better things in their future.

This will be a building block yet progress.

Predicted finish – Semi Finals

Japan

Similar to Costa Rica, there is a feeling in Japan that they are about to embark on an exciting generation, but are simply unlucky to have to play two European heavyweights.

Hajime Moryiasu has overseen a transition to such an extent that only 4 players in his squad for Qatar were on the plane to Russia.

While Japan didn’t disgrace themselves 4 years ago, the manager felt it was as far as that class could go and it was time to think about the future.

It might be a tournament too soon for some of their youngsters, but equally shouldn’t be underestimated

Predicted finish – Group stage

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