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Spain look to clinch top spot in Group E at the World Cup when they face Japan, who are targeting another upset in Qatar.
Hajime Moriyasu’s side were stunned by Costa Rica last time out, meaning victory here is essential to stand any hope of qualifying for the last 16. While Spain, who drew 1-1 with Germany in their second game, can clinch top spot and an easier route to the final on paper with another win.
“There was a strange feeling in the changing room because we had the opportunity to beat Germany and we let it slip through our hands and that was a shame,” Luis Enrique said ahead of the match.
“But we have to think that we are at the top of the so-called Group of Death and we have to stay positive. A draw against Japan on Thursday would probably send us through to knock-outs but we will not speculate. We will use our full strength and go for the win to secure the top in the group standings.”
Here’s everything you need to know.
When is Japan vs Spain?
Japan vs Spain is scheduled for a 7pm GMT kick-off on Thursday, 1 December at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
What TV channel is it on and how can I watch online?
The match will be televised in the UK on ITV, with coverage beginning at 6.15pm.
A live stream can be found on ITVX or the ITV website, alternatively check by with Independent Sport here to find live minute-by-minute updates.
What is the team news?
Japan have doubts over Takehiro Tomiyasu and Hiroki Sakai due to hamstring injuries, while a knee injury could prevent Wataru Endo from playing, with Ao Tanaka or Gaku Shibasaki likely to step in.
Spain’s Barcelona starlet Gavi, 18, is a doubt after skipping training with a minor knock. While Luis Enrique could rest Sergio Busquets, given his captain is one booking away from a suspension.
That means the likes of Koke, Carlos Soler and Marcos Llorente are all in contention to start their first match in Qatar.
Although, Manchester City’s Rodri could revert to his preferred role in midfield after filling in at centre-back, which would release Pau Torres or Eric Garcia to partner up with Aymeric Laporte at the back.
Alvaro Morata is in contention to start after his second strike off the bench in as many games. His inclusion would likely come at the expense of either Ferran Torres or Marco Asensio, with Dani Olmo also poised to start.
Japan XI: Gonda; Yamane, Itakura, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Tanaka, Morita; Doan, Kamada, Kubo; Maeda
Spain XI: Simon; Carvajal, P. Torres, Laporte, Alba; Koke, Rodri, Pedri; Asensio, Morata, Olmo
Japan need this more, but Spain can pick them off even with some heavy rotation. The win is still key to clinch top spot, so I expect Luis Enrique’s side to get the job done here, perhaps by more than a goal with Hajime Moriyasu’s side punished on the break as they chase the game late. Japan 1-3 Spain.