Japan v Costa Rica, Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, 10 am
In what was supposed to be a meeting of the also-rans, Japan’s German scalp has turned the group in its head. They couldn’t be arriving here in more wildly disparate form after Costa Rice crumpled into a heap against the Spanish.
Belgium v Morocco, Al Thumama Stadium, 1pm
Bobby Martinez’s aging cast of Red Devils were utterly desperate against Canada yet still got a win by taking their only real chance. No Romelu Lukaku again here so it could again be tight. Morocco were solid against Croatia but Ziyech and co. need to show more up top.
Croatia v Canada, Khalifa Stadium, 4pm
After that Belgium loss, John Herdman was crestfallen but adamant post-match: ‘we’re going to F*** Croatia up’ was the promise. Well here’s the chance. The 2018 finalists were much too sluggish last time and if Canada can bring the same energy they may get a reward.
Spain v Germany, Al Bayt Stadium, 10pm.
The stand-out clash of the group stages arrives with even more added spice. Hansi Flick’s side looked sharp and solid for 50-odd minutes and then it all fell apart. This will be a truer test of Luis Enrique's alluring young Spain too. Mouth-watering.
As if the stadiums didn’t cost enough, no expense has been spared on the surrounds either. Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium is part of a couple which includes the Mall of Qatar. Like most things here, it ain’t small. For $1.4 billion they’ve got 520 stores and restaurants.
We could probably pick five or six Spaniards here but how could we not go for Gavi. Mere months after his 18th birthday he lit up his World Cup debut. The Germans had better track him closely.
That Canadian striker Jonathan David is one of the top marksmen in French football. You likely wouldn’t have got that impression against Belgium as the Lille man misfired. With 22 shots but just 1 on target, Canada need to solve their shooting.
Could the Costa Ricans break a 78-year-old record? The worst defence in World Cup group stage history, stunningly, is carried over from the days of just two games. South Korea lost 9-0 to Hungary and 7-0 to Turkey for a grand total of -16. Long way to go for Los Ticos.