Ahmad bin Ali Stadium is the venue as Japan and Costa Rica meet each other in the second round of the 2022 World Cup Group E on Sunday at 10.00 am.
Hajime Moriyasu’s side pulled off one of the most sensational comebacks in the recent World Cup finals as they came from a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat four-time world champions Germany 2-1 on day one.
Second-half substitutes Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano turned the Samurai Blue’s fortunes, proving that Japan’s run into the 2018 first knockout stage was no fluke.
With a match against a rampant Spain awaiting them on the final group matchday, the four-time AFC Asian Cup winners would want to seal progression into the last 16 here and now.
If Costa Rica’s humiliating 7-0 defeat to La Furia Roja in their curtain-raising Group E outing was a sign of things to come, Moriyasu’s side could have a walk in the park.
Spain’s outstanding triumph significantly derailed Los Ticos’ already faint hopes of making it out of the World Cup group stages for the first time since 2014.
After going winless in all three group games in Russia four years ago (D1, L2), Luis Fernando Suarez’s men are seemingly on the verge of going back-to-back World Cup appearances without winning for the first time.
Despite Germany’s disappointing result against Japan, Die Mannschaft will unlikely drop points on matchday three, suggesting Costa Rica’s best chance of collecting three points comes on Sunday.
Japan’s come-from-behind triumph over Hansi Flick’s team gives them a rare opportunity to win consecutive World Cup fixtures for the first time since co-hosting the tournament in 2002.
If the Japanese achieve that feat and Germany fail to beat Spain, the Samurai Blue could secure their berth in the World Cup knockout phase in two successive editions for the first time in history.
Given the quality of the group, it would be a memorable accomplishment, with a run of four wins from their last seven matches (D2, L1) backing that as a realistic prospect.
Since beating Italy and Uruguay in the 2014 group stages, the Costa Ricans have gone winless in seven consecutive World Cup outings (D4, L3), drawing a blank five times in the process.
It’s also worth noting that Los Ticos didn’t threaten Spain’s goal once last time out, marking only the second instance of a side failing to produce a single shot in a World Cup fixture since 1966.
Another similar showing would undoubtedly condemn Suarez’s team to back-to-back group stage eliminations with a whimper, but that looks inevitable.
Japan vs Costa Rica Head-to-Head
Japan boast a near-perfect H2H record against Costa Rica, having racked up three victories and a draw across their four previous meetings in all competitions.
The sides most recently met in a friendly in September 2018, with the Samuari Blue dispatching the North Americans 3-0.
Japan vs Costa Rica Potential Line-ups
Japan (4-2-3-1): Shuchi Gonda; Takehiro Tomiyasu, Ko Itakura, Maya Yoshida, Yuto Nagatomo; Wataru Endo, Ao Tanaka; Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Takefusa Kubo; Takuma Asano.
Costa Rica (4-2-2-2): Keylor Navas; Kendall Waston, Francisco Calvo, Oscar Duarte, Bryan Oviedo; Tejeda, Celso Borges; Jewison Bennette, Keysher Fuller; Joel Campbell, Anthony Contreras.
Japan vs Costa Rica Prediction
Japan won’t have a better chance to advance into the quarter-finals than this and we expect them to seize the opportunity.
Japan 2-0 Costa Rica
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