Wednesday World Cup Preview | 2018 runners-up Croatia begin tournament as well as Germany, Spain and Belgium

Group E and Group F will be played in full today as another four games are set to take place, starting from 10am.

It’s already day four of the 2022 Qatar World Cup and the fixtures keep on coming with another marathon of football beginning from 10am.

Tuesday began with one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history as Saudi Arabia stunned Argentina with a 2-1 victory. It seemed a routine game to begin with for the South American’s as Lionel Messi dispatched a penalty early on but quick-fire second half goals from Saleh Alshehri and Salem Aldawsari gave the underdogs the lead. A superb performance from Mohammed Alowais in goal saw the Saudi’s claim the biggest win in their history.

That game was followed up by a stalemate between Denmark and Tunisia where the latter showed some strong defending to keep the Danes at bay and notch an unlikely draw.

The 0-0’s weren’t finished there however as Mexico and Poland both failed to find the net as they settled for a point. Guillermo Ochoa came up trumps in a World Cup game once again as he saved a Robert Lewandowski penalty to claim the Player of the Match award.

Lastly, reigning champions got their campaign underway with a comprehensive 4-1 win over Australia, despite going behind early on. Craig Goodwin’s finish put the Socceroos one to the good after nine minutes but that was good as it would get for them as they were 2-1 down 25 minutes later, with Olivier Giroud and Adrien Rabiot scoring for Les Bleus. Giroud doubled his tally in the second half and Kylian Mbappe also got involved as they got their title defence off to a flying start.

The action continues today and here are the fixtures to look forward to on Wednesday.

Morocco v Croatia (10am)

The opening game of Group F sees 2018 finalists Croatia take on Morocco in the first of four games on Wednesday.

It will be Croatia’s first World Cup fixture since their 2018 final loss against France so they will be determined to get this campaign off on the right foot. They enter the competition in fine form with an unbeaten five game run from their Nations League campaign that ended in September, including a draw and a win against France. Zlatko Dalic’s men were also 1-0 victors over Saudi Arabia last week, the nation that shocked the world against Argentina yesterday.

Morocco, on the other hand, will be hoping to best their 2018 campaign where they only secured a point in their three group stage games. A 3-0 friendly win over Georgia last week would have been a confidence boost for the Moroccans ahead of their second consecutive World Cup. They will enter the game as underdogs, but yesterday proved that any side is capable of beating what’s in front of them and Morocco have the quality to do so against Croatia.

Germany v Japan (1pm)

With 2018 still resting on their mind, Germany will be looking to avoid a repeat of their previous campaign.

They opened their Russia World Cup with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico and were subsequently knocked out at the group stages for the first time in 80 years, a feat they won’t be looking to repeat.

Since then, Hansi Flick has taken the helm and there’s been an improvement on results and enter the competition off the back of a handful of draws in their tough Nations League group. It’s interesting to see how Flick sets his team up ahead of the game, with the starting XI from last week’s win over Oman set to be shuffled.

Japan will open their seventh consecutive World Cup campaign against the 2014 winners and would’ve hope for an easier start to life. Takehiro Tomiyasu looks set to feature following his late injury scare and he’ll be a welcome addition following their 2-1 loss against Canada last week.

A German win looks on the cards but Japan shouldn’t be ruled out too easily and they will find it tough to break them down.

Spain v Costa Rica (4pm)

Just like the German’s, Luis Enrique and Spain will be vying for a better tournament compared to 2018.

Although, they did make it to the last-16, their form was inconsistent and should’ve been in with a chance of making it to the last stages of the competition with their quality of players.

World Cup debuts for Pedri and Gavi look set to be confirmed for tomorrow, as well as a considerable amount of younger players who may let the occasion get to them or could take the game by the scruff of the neck.

Meanwhile, Costa Rica have experience of slaying giants in a World Cup group stage with 2014 springing to mind. A 2-0 win over Nigeria two weeks ago was their most recent outing as they begin the competition with fresh legs.

A very intriguing contest awaits, with a new look Spain side ready to eradicate the ghosts of their previous tournaments.

Belgium v Canada (7pm)

Belgium and Canada round off Wednesday’s fixtures, with the latter preparing for their first World Cup game in 36 years.

And 2022 is only their second appearance at the tournament and they’ll be looking for their maiden win against Belgium as 1986 saw the Canadians lose their three group games, failing to score in each outing.

Belgium will be aiming to keep this record in tact as they’ll need an optimistic start if they’re to progress in Qatar. A 2-1 loss against Egypt last Friday certainly won’t be put under the microscope but it was far from the result they would have desired ahead of their clash with Canada.

A clash of two sides that have never faced each other on the World Cup stage can always bring surprises but the Belgians may be too strong on this occasion.

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