Who: Spain vs Japan, Group E
Where: Khalifa International Stadium
When: Thursday, December 1, 10pm (19:00 GMT)
FIFA Ranking: Spain (7), Japan (24)
The Samurai Blue, who are currently level on points with Costa Rica, must beat Spain if they are to guarantee their spot in the last 16. They could still qualify with a draw, but this outcome would depend on the result in the group’s other game, between Germany and Costa Rica.
Spain will automatically qualify with either a draw or a win. If they lose and the other game ends in a win for either Germany or Costa Rica, then Spain will not qualify.
La Roja were imperious in their first match against Costa Rica, thumping them 7-0 with six different players getting on the scoresheet. They then played out a high-quality 1-1 draw with Germany at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday.
The two teams have only ever played each other in a 2001 friendly, which Spain won 1-0.
There aren’t many changes expected for either team, although Alvaro Morata may start ahead of Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio after scoring in Spain’s first two matches.
The teams that progress from Group E will play either Morocco, Belgium or Croatia in the next round.
Both Japan and Spain were knocked out in the Round of 16 in the 2018 World Cup: Japan were defeated by Belgium 3-2, while Spain went out to the hosts, Russia, on penalties.
They will both want to go further in 2022 – Spain pushing for a repeat of their 2010 World Cup win – but the two sides face a more imminent test first, against each other.