Sergio Busquets denied suggestions Spain were relieved to have avoided a potential World Cup quarter-final against Brazil after La Roja survived an almighty scare to advance from Group E.

Spain were on course to top the group when Alvaro Morata gave them an early lead against Japan at the Khalifa International Stadium on Thursday, but Ao Tanaka followed up Ritsu Doan's leveller within 142 seconds to fire the Samurai Blue to first place.

Spain's defeat saw them advance via goal difference as Germany beat Costa Rica 4-2 in the group's other game, and La Roja were briefly set for a stunning group-stage exit when Los Ticos led Hansi Flick's team with 20 minutes remaining.

Spain will now meet Morocco in the last 16, and provided Brazil avoid defeat to Cameroon on Friday, they will not be able to meet the pre-tournament favourites until the final.

However, Busquets was dismissive when asked if that represented a positive outcome, saying: "It has nothing to do with it. 

"We wanted to win and be first. We go to the other side of the bracket, but that does not guarantee that it will be easier or more difficult.

"We didn't want this to happen, our intention was to win. To continue, we have the round of 16 against Morocco, which is going to be a very difficult match.

"We were not comfortable. They closed the pass between the lines very well and it was very difficult for us to connect and create danger. 

"We knew it was going to be like that, it's a shame about the goals. We have to continue, try to correct the mistakes, and go through the knockouts."

Spain dropped to third place when Manuel Neuer's own goal put Costa Rica 2-1 up against Germany at Al Bayt Stadium, before the four-time winners levelled the scores through Kai Havertz three minutes later.

Busquets' midfield partner Pedri revealed Spain were made aware of their perilous situation during that brief period, as he emphasised the need to improve against Morocco.

"We knew we were out. Personally, I tried to encourage my team-mates to look for that goal after they scored against us, but we didn't manage it," Pedri said.

"We have to go with everything, the games now are life or death. The coach will tell us the failures we had and what we have to improve on."

Spain have lost their final group game at a World Cup for the first time since 1982 (1-0 v Northern Ireland), having won eight of their nine previous such matches (D1).

Japan, meanwhile, have reached the last 16 at consecutive World Cups for the first time, topping their group for the first time since they did so on home soil at the 2002 tournament.

Luis Enrique reckons he would have "had a heart-attack" if he knew Spain were briefly heading out of the World Cup during Thursday's dramatic conclusion to Group E.

Spain were beaten 2-1 by Samurai Blue at the Khalifa International Stadium, with Japan coming from behind in the second half after Alvaro Morata's early opener.

La Roja went into the game top of the table but needed a point to absolutely make sure of progression.

They did not even manage that, but Germany's 4-2 win over Costa Rica elsewhere ensured Luis Enrique's men lived to fight another day at the expense of Die Nationalelf, finishing second behind Japan.

There were a few minutes, however, where Spain dropped out of the top two completely as Costa Rica led Germany.

Luis Enrique claimed he was unaware, and he was seemingly grateful for his ignorance.

"We were knocked out for three minutes? Why do you say this? I was not paying attention," Luis Enrique said with a look of bemusement. "When did that happen?

"Okay, fantastic. I didn't know this. Why? Because I was paying attention to my match. If I'd have found out, I'd have had a heart-attack."

Of course, the defeat ultimately cost Spain little because many will argue their immediate path in the knockout stages is now kinder than it would have been if they won the group.

Topping Group E would have put them on track to face Croatia next and potentially Brazil in the quarter-finals.

Finishing as runners-up means they are now likely to come up against Portugal in the last eight, assuming La Roja get beyond Morocco.

Talk of result manipulation to avoid Brazil dominated the news agenda before this game, but given how close Spain came to packing their bags, Luis Enrique was in no mood to celebrate progression.

"In football there are no good or bad sides," he added. "In football you deserve or not and today I'm not happy at all.

"Yes, we qualified, I'd have liked to be top by winning this game, but this was not possible because in five minutes they got two goals, and in 10 minutes we were completely out.

"We were dismantled. We tried to close the game, but it wasn't possible. But we didn't have any danger in the first half, then in the second… I told them in half-time [Japan] will push us, they had nothing to lose.

"We didn't have good game management, we collapsed. I'm not happy, I never celebrate defeats.

"I have nothing to celebrate. Of course, the bracket changes and many things are different, but I have nothing to celebrate."

Japan's winning goal by Ao Tanaka was somewhat controversial in nature, as replays showed the ball was agonisingly close to going out of play before Kaoru Mitoma's cut-back to the match-winner.

Luis Enrique was shown an image of the situation and was left concluding it to be fake.

"I saw the images, they must be wrong or fabricated," he said. "I saw an image and said that can't be true.

"I have nothing else to say. I have full respect. I knew something going on as VAR took so long."

Goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka helped Japan reach the World Cup last 16 as Group E winners with a remarkable 2-1 victory over Spain, with La Roja joining them as Germany were dumped out.

With both sides knowing a win would see them advance, Spain wasted little time in hitting the front as Alvaro Morata headed beyond Shuichi Gonda for his third goal of the tournament early on.

However, Spain failed to capitalise on their huge dominance of possession as Japan turned the game on its head with a quickfire second-half double, Doan firing home from range before Tanaka bundled in a second.

Spain were briefly on their way out of the World Cup when Costa Rica took the lead against Germany in the group's other fixture.

But Germany's late comeback in a 4-2 win ensured La Roja survived an incredible finale to go through as runners-up.

Spain control their own destiny and also that of Germany in their final Group E match against Japan, but Koke insists La Roja are not paying any mind to the wider consequences of a potential victory.

Luis Enrique's men only need a point to make sure of their place in the last 16, while a win over Samurai Blue at the Khalifa International Stadium will ensure they go through as group winners.

The latter outcome on Thursday would suit Germany down to the ground, as Die Nationalelf – who face Costa Rica simultaneously – can clinch a spot in the next round if they win and Japan lose. If Spain are held and Hansi Flick's men win, goal difference will come into play for the 2014 champions.

There is undoubtedly a perception that Germany crashing out would be good for Spain in the long run, given La Roja's designs on winning the tournament.

But Koke is adamant Spain – who have won their final group game in eight of their past nine World Cup appearances – are only focused on themselves.

"Our only strategy is to go out and win the next game against Japan," he told reporters.

"We've always done it. Obviously, you do the maths on how the classification would look, but our idea is to respect our opponent by going in to win the games.

"It's the only way to prepare for the game and qualify."

Providing Spain finish the job and qualify, they will face either Croatia, Morocco or Belgium in the next round.

But winning the group would put them on course to face Brazil in the quarter-finals, assuming both make it that far.

Koke shrugged off such concerns.

"I don't think we fear anyone," he continued. "We have the utmost respect for all the national teams.

"We don't think about the quarter-final because first we have to win against Japan. Our idea is to win and then we'll see who will come.

"If Brazil face us in the quarter-finals and we have the fortune to get that far, we will try to get there in the best way. We have the same idea of ​​going to win every game."

Japan's position in the group is somewhat precarious.

Hajime Moriyasu's side followed up their shock Germany win with a similarly surprising loss to Costa Rica, meaning they will need at least a point against Spain if they are to qualify for the knockout stages at consecutive World Cup tournaments for the first time ever. Even then, a draw might not be enough.

Moriyasu is not downplaying the task facing his team, rating Spain as the world's best.

But he believes they can repeat the heroics of their win over Germany.

"[Spain] are the best team in the world," Moriyasu said. "They demonstrate their skill by working together even in ferocious battles. We want to win and get past them.

"We shouldn't be on an emotional rollercoaster. The victories and defeats are in the past and now we start preparing for the next game.

"We can have a big win [against Spain] like we did against Germany by making incremental strides."
 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan – Maya Yoshida

The odds are stacked firmly against Japan for this game. If they are to get the result they require to go through, Samurai Blue will presumably need to be effective defensively.

At the back, Japan will look to the experienced Yoshida, who was excellent on matchday one. And he could be particularly key if Alvaro Morata comes into the Spain starting XI after scoring against Germany.

Yoshida won five of his six duels last time out and also plays a key role in Japan building out from the back, as he recorded 122 touches against Costa Rica – Wataru Endo (113) was the only other Japan player to register more than 83.

Spain – Dani Olmo

RB Leipzig winger Olmo was heavily involved against Germany. The only non-defender to have more touches than his 70 was Pedri (82), whereas Olmo's 17 passes in the final third was the most for Spain.

On top of that, his two key passes was only bettered by Jamal Musiala (three), and Olmo also hit the crossbar with a fierce first-half strike.

He may not have played much in the lead up to the tournament, but he has looked sharp in Qatar – Japan would be wise to pay close attention.

PREDICTION

Anything other than a Spain victory would be a surprise. La Roja go into the contest with a 67.1 per cent chance of taking all three points, and therefore winning the group.

Japan's win probability is just 12.3 per cent and the draw comes in at 20.6 per cent – Moriyasu would probably settle for the latter, however.

Luis Enrique insists Spain will not take any chances by trying to engineer a specific result against Japan in an attempt to avoid Brazil in the World Cup quarter-finals.

La Roja face Samurai Blue on Thursday knowing a victory will secure top spot in Group E and set up a last-16 clash with the runners-up from Group F.

But that would also put them on track to play the Selecao in the last eight.

Trying to avoid Brazil has been a topic of much debate during Spain's media duties in the past few days, and Luis Enrique even confessed to discussing the situation with his team.

But trying to manipulate a result that would see Spain finish second is far too risky for Luis Enrique's liking.

"Great question, we've wondered about this and reflected on it. From a professional point of view, we are only thinking of winning because the four teams can qualify," he said.

"We want to be first, we cannot and should not speculate. It's very human to talk about it, we have done it, but it's useless to choose.

"Imagine, we reach minute 95, we are drawing 0-0, we are winners of the group. But then just before full-time, Costa Rica and Japan score. You've speculated the entire game and then in the last 15 seconds you concede. That's it, you're out.

"If you're convinced your team is a good one [you try to win]. We're here to win seven games.

"Your theory is Brazil [in the quarter-finals]. Let's play Brazil. We can't start with these estimations.

"We try to put up a fight – it doesn't matter who we're playing in the round of 16 or quarter-finals.

"If we play Brazil in the quarters, well so be it… We must beat Japan – elite sport and speculation don't compute, or we don't understand it that way. Being first would mean that we have been better.

"To win a World Cup you have to win against everyone who comes your way. That's our goal."

In fact, Luis Enrique went on to suggest he would welcome facing Brazil in the quarter-finals, even if it meant a trickier route to the final for La Roja.

"I hope to play against Brazil. It will mean that we have both reached the quarter-finals," he continued.

"Brazil is always a clear favourite [for the World Cup], regardless of the year. They have so much talent and quality, both individually and collectively.

"As for everyone else [the favourites], there aren't big surprises. I always stick to the FIFA rankings, you can see which are the favourites. You look at the top 10, some aren't here but generally those are the favourites. Brazil, France won [their groups] easily, so there's no surprises."

Spain have generally impressed across their first two games with their vibrant and attack-minded style of play, with many considering them early favourites despite possessing one of the youngest squads.

But one of their young talents who is yet to make an appearance is Ansu Fati, who some felt was fortunate to even be named in the squad after only playing bit-part role for Barcelona this season on his return from injury.

Luis Enrique acknowledged Fati was the most uncertain selection in the group, but he stressed he was thrilled with the training level of all of his forwards.

"He was the last player to enter the list. He wasn't even in the squad in the previous two international breaks. It might be the position where I had the most doubts, regarding bringing Ansu or another player.

"I have to base my decisions on training. We have eight forwards training so well, I am delighted with them, they are flying. It's a shame they've not all had minutes, they all deserve to play and it hurts me, but there's no space for everyone – some will not play.

"There's five substitutes allowed, and some players will end the competition without playing a minute. I'm sorry about that, so sorry, but they have to keep training at a top level and I make decisions based on what I see. I am sorry, but also happy with what I see from those eight players."

France, Brazil and Portugal are the only sides to have already secured World Cup knockout football, with numerous teams facing a nervy final matchday as they bid to reach the round of 16 in Qatar.

Pre-tournament favourites Brazil breezed through Group G with wins over Serbia and Switzerland, while France became the first reigning world champions to escape the group stage since the Selecao in 2006.

Portugal made sure of their round-of-16 spot after Monday's Group H victory over Uruguay, yet the likes of England, Spain, Germany and Argentina all need results on matchday three to progress.

The Netherlands are another big name that have yet to confirm their place in the latter stages of FIFA's top tournament, while Belgium face a tense Group F clash with Croatia to avoid an early exit.

Here, Stats Perform takes a look at the permutations riding on the final selection of group-stage action in the Middle East.

Group A

The Netherlands are largely in control of Group A, needing to just avoid defeat against the already eliminated hosts, Qatar.

Louis van Gaal's side will also reach the round of 16 if Ecuador beat Senegal, who have to win otherwise Aliou Cisse's side will rely on a somewhat unlikely win for Qatar over the Netherlands to remain in contention.

Ecuador, who have impressed in their first two games, must win or draw against Senegal to progress. However, Gustavo Alfaro's men could go through in defeat if Qatar beat the Netherlands.

Group B

A win or a draw is enough for England against fierce rivals Wales. Yet, the Three Lions would still progress as long as they avoid a four-goal defeat against Wales, whose goal difference is six fewer.

Iran are guaranteed to qualify with victory over the United States, who know anything other than a win against Carlos Queiroz's side will see them eliminated from the competition.

Quieroz's men could still escape Group B with a draw, though goal difference would come into play if Wales pick up their first win at the tournament against Gareth Southgate's England.

Group C

All four teams can still make it out of an enticing Group C, with Argentina – who were among the pre-tournament favourites – needing to beat Poland to guarantee a round-of-16 place.

La Albiceleste could progress with a draw, however, and would be through in that instance if Mexico and Saudi Arabia also share the spoils.

Yet, if Lionel Scaloni's men are held and Herve Renard's men beat El Tri, Argentina will be eliminated. If Mexico win and Argentina draw, it goes to goal difference.

Poland would go through by avoiding defeat, but would be knocked out by a loss coupled with a Saudi Arabia victory over Mexico, who must win to have any chance of remaining in the tournament.

If Poland lose and Saudi Arabia draw, the two teams will have to be separated by goal difference, which will also be used if Czeslaw Michniewicz's side are defeated and Mexico win.

Group D

France are already in the round-of-16 draw and will top Group D as long as they do not lose to Tunisia and Australia do not defeat Denmark, otherwise the Socceroos would move level on six points with Les Bleus.

While victory would take Australia through, Graham Arnold's side would still reach the knockout stage with a draw unless Tunisia beat France, which would see Jalel Kadri's men progress on goal difference.

Denmark would grab qualification with a win over Australia unless Tunisia triumph over France, which would leave goal difference or goals scored to separate the Carthage Eagles and Kasper Hjulmand's men.

Group E

Spain are the favourites to progress from Group E, requiring a win or draw against Japan. Defeat would see Luis Enrique's side still go through on goal difference, unless Germany lose to Costa Rica.

Germany must pick up three points to stay in contention and would qualify as long as Spain defeat Japan, though a draw in the latter game or a win for Hajime Moriyasu's men would see goal difference needed.

A win for Japan over Spain would take Moriyasu's side through, while a draw – coupled with a stalemate for Germany – would also see the Samurai Blue make the knockout stage.

Costa Rica would earn a last-16 spot with victory and a point would also take them through if Spain overcome Japan. A draw in both games or a defeat for Fernando Suarez's side sees them eliminated.

Group F

Croatia will pass through Group F if they avoid defeat against Belgium, who require victory against the 2018 runners-up to guarantee a place in the round of 16.

Such a win for Belgium would leave Croatia needing already eliminated Canada to overcome Morocco, with goal difference coming into play to separate Zlatko Dalic's side from the Atlas Lions.

A draw is likely not enough for Belgium. They would need Morocco to lose to Canada and then rely on goal difference, though Walid Regragui's men (+2) hold the advantage over Roberto Martinez's side (-1) in the decisive metric.

Morocco would progress with victory over Canada, while a defeat would see Regragui's side reliant on Belgium beating Croatia for goal difference to be decisive between Dalic's men and the Atlas Lions for second.

Group G

Brazil have secured knockout football and will finish as Group G winners with anything other than defeat against Cameroon, who need victory against Tite's side and results to go their way to make the last 16.

Rigobert Song's men would be eliminated if they do not win, though victory is not guaranteed to secure progression as Switzerland could play out a high-scoring draw with Serbia to go through on goals scored, which is used if sides cannot be separated on goal difference – Cameroon are currently on -1 and Switzerland level in the latter metric.

The somewhat expected scenario of Cameroon losing to Brazil would see Serbia and Switzerland become a winner-takes-all clash. 

Dragan Stojkovic's side need victory to progress in that instance, while a draw would be enough for Switzerland. Goal difference would be required if Serbia (-2) and Cameroon (-1) both win their final encounters.

Group H

Portugal are already through and would top Group H by avoiding defeat against South Korea, who could still make a late charge for the round-of-16 stage should the result between Uruguay and Ghana go their way.

The permutations are straightforward for Uruguay and South Korea, who must win to avoid elimination, though qualification is not assured even with victory.

Both teams would be level on four points with victories, again leading to goal difference to separate. Yet, if Ghana beat Uruguay then South Korea's result against Portugal will prove irrelevant for Paulo Bento's side.

A draw for Ghana and a win for South Korea would also see goal difference required to split the two sides, with Bento's men trailing the Black Stars by one in that metric, which could mean goals scored comes into it.

Alvaro Morata says there will be no complacency from Spain when they attempt to seal a place in the World Cup round of 16 against Japan after a 1-1 draw with Germany.

Morata came off the bench to score his second goal of the tournament to put La Roja in front at Al Bayt Stadium on Sunday, but substitute Niclas Fullkrug salvaged a point with a late equaliser for Germany.

Group E leaders Spain only need a point against Japan next Thursday to qualify, while Germany must beat Costa Rica and hope Luis Enrique's side can do them a favour.

All four teams can still qualify from the group following Costa Rica's 1-0 win over Japan, with Germany bottom following their shock 2-1 loss to the Samurai Blue on Wednesday.

Striker Morata stressed there is no chance Spain will take Japan lightly at Khalifa International Stadium.

"Japan is a tough team, they run a lot, they are good tactically. It's another tough game, it's a World Cup." he said.

The Atletico Madrid frontman says he has no problem with being among the substitutes again after also finding the back of the net in a 7-0 rout of Costa Rica.

"We are on the bench for this [to score]. Germany are a great team, this match could have been a semi-final or final in the World Cup," he said.

"It's the same [starting of being a substitute], the most important thing is to win. They scored an amazing goal, so we didn't have the victory, but we keep training and pushing with good vibes and positivity."

Morata has scored eight goals at European Championships and World Cups, at least double the amount of any other player for Spain since 2016.

 

Luis Fernando Suarez is relieved his Costa Rica team can "still dream" after they sealed a vital 1-0 win against Japan at the World Cup on Sunday.

Coming off the back of a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of Spain in their opening game, Keysher Fuller's 81st-minute strike against the run of play at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium handed Costa Rica a win that gives them a chance of advancing to the knockout stage in Qatar.

Los Ticos became the first team to concede seven goals in a game and then win their next match at the World Cup since Paraguay in 1958 (lost 7-3 to France, won 3-2 against Scotland).

Head coach Suarez said he did not want to discuss "tactics or technical aspects" of the win as he praised his team at his post-match press conference.

"I believe the main thing was our ability to do such amazing things," he said. "I'm not going to talk about tactical or technical aspects, today I need to value and appreciate what they have done to get this result.

"We had to face many challenges but we firmly believed and wanted to be 100 per cent committed for our country to play well against a strong opponent like Japan.

"We are alive [in the group], that is the main thing and no-one can forget about us yet. We can still dream."

Fuller was the hero, with his goal the only shot Costa Rica have had on target in the tournament so far, and the 28-year-old added: "The main thing was to keep ourselves alive and to win, and we managed to do so.

"We were in pain after the Spain defeat, but now we took a weight off our shoulders. We are a group that wants to achieve great things."

 

Japan struggled to reproduce the form that saw them shock Germany in their opening game in Qatar, but the Samurai Blue still dominated large parts of the game, having 13 shots to Costa Rica's four and recording an expected goals (xG) rate of 0.8 to their opponents' 0.1.

Head coach Hajime Moriyasu was left disappointed but stated in his press conference that his team will go into their final Group E clash against Spain with confidence.

"It wasn't a bad match," he insisted. "In the second half we were trying to control the game and if we could have had total control, we would have won, but it didn't happen.

"We beat Germany but that does not mean we will beat Spain. Both countries are World Cup winners, we have a lot of respect for them.

"The Spain match will be tough but I think there is a good chance for us to win, so we have to prepare and go with confidence."

Costa Rica produced a late smash and grab to beat Japan 1-0 on Sunday, giving themselves and Germany a potential route back into the World Cup in the process.

A listless contest that looked set to become the sixth stalemate of the tournament so far finally produced something of note when Keysher Fuller curled a shot into the top-left corner with nine minutes remaining.

Japan had largely been the better side, particularly in the second half, but Costa Rica took the lead with their first shot on target of the tournament.

The result leaves both teams on three points heading into the final games, with Germany now in with a chance of progressing to the knockout stage with a win against Costa Rica in their final game whatever their result against Spain later on Sunday.


The only real moment of note in a tentative first half came when Ritsu Doan fizzed a low ball across the six-yard box from the right, but there were no Japan players on hand to get on the end of it.

Takuma Asano came on at half-time and the change nearly yielded an immediate impact as his touch to Hidemasa Morita 25 seconds into the second period led to the latter having the first shot on target of the contest, with Keylor Navas diving to his left to palm it away.

Japan showed more intent to go and win the game in the second half, with Yuki Soma first cutting inside from the left and firing high and wide, before putting a free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar.

The surprise moment came in the 81st minute though as a poor Japan clearance saw the ball come to Yeltsin Tejeda, who played in Fuller to shoot, with Japanese goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda getting stuck under the ball and failing to keep it out.

Costa Rica coach Luis Fernando Suarez will be hoping his direct approach pays off when his side take on Japan on Sunday.

Spain thrashed Costa Rica 7-0 on Wednesday in one of the standout results of the World Cup's early games.

Costa Rica conceded as many goals in that match as they had across their previous eight games at the tournament combined. They also failed to have a single shot against Spain, just the second instance of a side failing to have an attempt on goal in a World Cup match since 1966, after Costa Rica themselves against Brazil in 1990.

Japan, meanwhile, shocked Germany by winning 2-1 in the other Group E game. 

Costa Rica have never beaten Japan, losing three of their four previous meetings.

Asked what his side needed to do to address their defeat against Spain, Suarez's message was simple.

He told reporters: "I'll have to be very direct – we did a lot wrong, we made mistakes, and I think we should all be very clear about what our mistakes have been, starting with myself, my tactical responsibility.

"When we've done all this, we have to forget about the result. It will be very difficult. But we do have players who are good enough to play differently.

"We have to improve a great deal. We need to take on that responsibility and the blame, but also the way to move on is by focusing on positive results and to forget about [the Spain] defeat."

Suarez did, feel, however, that even though his side underperformed against Spain the result was a harsh reflection of their display.

"Spain were the much better team. But this was one of those games where everything happened in a completely different way than what you'd expect," he added.

"Yes, they were much better, but not by a difference of seven goals."

After beating Germany, Japan are looking to win back-to-back World Cup matches for the first time since 2002 (v Russia and Tunisia), while they have never won both of their first two fixtures of a single edition at the finals.

Indeed, victory on Sunday for Japan could see them through to the last 16, should Germany fail to beat Spain.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Japan – Takuma Asano

Takuma Asano scored a brilliant winner against Germany, sealing a famous victory for Japan.

Asano had five of Japan's 12 shots in the match – no other player had more than one.

Only Shinji Kagawa has ever had more attempts in a single World Cup match for Japan (six vs Colombia in 2014).

Costa Rica – Keylor Navas

Keylor Navas has been one of Europe's best goalkeepers over much of the past decade, but he had a shocker against Spain.

The Paris Saint-Germain shot-stopper will be determined to right those wrongs and help Costa Rica claim a clean sheet as the basis for a win to keep their hopes alive.

He is one of three Costa Rica players who could make their 10th World Cup appearance, along with Celso Borges and Bryan Ruiz.

PREDICTION

Costa Rica's heavy defeat to Spain means they have been given just a 13.4 per cent chance of winning this game by Opta.

The likelihood of a Japan victory is rated at 66.6 per cent, with a 20 per cent chance of a draw.

Kai Havertz believes Ilkay Gundogan and Manuel Neuer's criticism of Germany's performance against Japan can spur them on in Sunday's do-or-die meeting with Spain.

Germany lost their opening World Cup game for just the third time (W13 D4) on Wednesday as Bundesliga duo Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano came off the bench to fire Japan to a shock 2-1 win.

Captain Neuer lamented Germany's failure to put the game to bed after the defeat, while Gundogan said Asano's goal was one of the most straightforward ever scored at a World Cup.

The shock result leaves Germany facing consecutive World Cup group-stage exits ahead of their meeting with Spain – who are favourites to top Group E after thrashing Costa Rica 7-0.

Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Havertz insisted his team-mates' comments had not caused any ill feeling, saying: "It was constructive criticism from Ilkay and Manu. 

"I can understand the boys. We talked about it. Such criticism is also good for the team because we continue to develop. It was a small snippet from an interview. Nobody is angry there.

"I can understand that negativity comes up from a lot of fans. There's a lot of people taking shots at us, but in my head I'm not worried. 

"I don't care what was in the past. It's a big game on Sunday. There's no use getting negative thoughts now. We are looking ahead."

Another early elimination would continue a run of poor tournament displays from Die Mannschaft, who went out in the last 16 at Euro 2020 after failing to make the knockout stages in Russia four years ago, but Havertz expects them to improve next time out.

"The statistics don't speak for us, but we have experienced a lot of change in recent years, which is not easy," the Chelsea forward added.

"That is not an excuse. What we have shown is not enough. But we will do everything we can to improve that."

The omens are not good for Germany, who have won just one of their last seven meetings with Spain (D2 L4) – a run which includes a humiliating 6-0 loss in Seville two years ago.

Julian Brandt does not believe that result will have any bearing on Sunday's fixture, and he hopes Germany can draw on their Euro 2020 experience in a bid to keep their World Cup dream alive.

"We're in a s***** situation and Spain come into the stadium with a 7-0 win behind them, but this is an opportunity for us. This can release a lot of energy," Brandt said.

"A little over a year ago, we also lost to France in the first game and then we won in the second game against Portugal. The guys understand such a situation. I don't think the 6-0 is still relevant."

Jose Mourinho says Japan's shock World Cup win over Germany was "not a crazy surprise," criticising European football's "big focus on individuals and egos."

The Samurai Blue produced an inspired comeback from 1-0 down as second-half goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano stunned Hansi Flick's side at the Khalifa International Stadium.

The four-time champions, who led through Ilkay Gundogan's penalty, lost a World Cup match after opening the scoring for the first time since a 2-1 defeat by Bulgaria in the 1994 quarter-finals.

Mourinho, who coached South Korea's Son Heung-min at Tottenham, was not overly shocked by the result, saluting the collective mentality demonstrated by Asian footballers.

"Of course, it's a fantastic achievement but, to be honest, it was not a crazy surprise," the Roma head coach said. "Japan is a good team, has good players, [and] is getting an accumulation of experience at these events. 

"The majority of the players, they play in Europe where they develop faster and understand better what is the high level. 

"I think the mentality of the players and the team can also make a difference. At this moment, in European football, there is a big focus on individuals and egos.

"When I look to your profile as people, your profile as a country - I never coached Japanese players, but I coached Asian players.

"In my case, I was lucky because I coached the best Asian player, and I understand that the mentality is really special. The team is the most important thing. People play for the team, they don't play for themselves."

Jurgen Klinsmann believes Germany need a footballing "miracle" to save their skins at the Qatar World Cup after the calamity of their defeat to Japan.

Next up for four-time winners Germany will be a Spain side who were in mesmerising form when thrashing Costa Rica 7-0, yet defeat on Sunday is an unthinkable prospect for Die Mannschaft.

Germany flopped at the group stage of the Russia 2018 finals, and they are in desperate danger of going the same way this time, with coach Hansi Flick needing to draw a markedly different performance from his team against Luis Enrique's La Roja.

Klinsmann, a World Cup winner as a striker with West Germany in 1990, later coached the national team to a place in the 2006 semi-finals, so he has lived the high life on this stage.

Ilkay Gundogan's penalty gave Germany a 33rd-minute lead against Japan on Wednesday, but second-half strikes from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano flipped the game on its head.

Now 58, Klinsmann said of his old team's plight: "Obviously it's hugely, hugely disappointing for us Germans.

"The overall performances was just not good enough. It was not what we expected after the disaster in Russia, going home [after] the group stage in Russia. 

"Our hope was that they showed the right spirit, they showed the right tempo, that they showed the right energy, and even if they were leading 1-0, I never had the feeling they put it up in a higher gear, like England did, when you score one goal and you want the second, third, fourth one."

Speaking on BBC One, Klinsmann said: "They were happy with the first one and thought they were going to cruise the game home, and then Japan punished them. And Japan played really poorly in the first half and you let them back in the game. They were feisty, they were full of energy, and they deserved to win.

"But now Germany, their back's against the wall, and if they're not pulling out a miracle against Spain and beat Spain, they might go home."

Former Bayern Munich, Inter and Tottenham striker Klinsmann had been barely a teenager the last time Germany lost a World Cup finals game having held a half-time lead.

The Japan game marked the first time that had happened since a 3-2 loss to Austria at the 1978 tournament, with Germany having been unbeaten in 21 such matches before letting it slide against Hajime Moriyasu's team.

For Japan, it was the first time they had come from behind to win a World Cup game, and a win against Costa Rica on Sunday will assure them of a last-16 spot if Germany lose to Spain.

Germany lost their opener to Mexico at the 2018 World Cup but came back to snatch a dramatic win over Sweden in their second game, only to tumble out after a defeat to South Korea on the third matchday.

Japan's winning goal in Wednesday's surprise victory over Germany was one of the easiest ever scored at a World Cup, according to Ilkay Gundogan.

Gundogan appeared to have put Germany on course for victory when he converted a first-half penalty, but Japan hit back in sensational fashion after half-time through two Bundesliga attackers.   

Freiburg's Ritsu Doan levelled after Manuel Neuer pushed Takumi Minamino's cross into his path, before Bochum winger Takuma Asano sent Japan's fans into raptures with a powerful near-post finish late on.

Asano's winner was the result of some dismal defending from Niklas Sule, who inexplicably played the 28-year-old onside from Ko Itakura's long ball, and Gundogan cannot recall a more straightforward goal being scored on the biggest stage.

"We made it too easy for Japan, especially with the second goal. I don't know if an easier goal has ever been scored at a World Cup," Gundogan told reporters.

"It can't happen. This is a World Cup. We dominated the game for the most part, Manu [Neuer] saved us once in the second half. That's why we have him. 

"We had incredible opportunities up front, but we didn't score the second goal. How the goals came about was far too easy. 

"There was a bit of a lack of conviction that we could hold the ball and move, that we could offer ourselves.

"We relied on long balls in the second half and the short balls we played were lost easily and quickly. You felt like not everyone wanted the ball."

As well as dealing a blow to the hopes of the country where they ply their trade, Doan and Asano became the first pair of substitutes to score in a single World Cup game against Germany.

Wednesday's game also represented Japan's first win against Die Mannschaft, with the Samurai Blue having posted one loss and one draw in the teams' two previous meetings.

Bastian Schweinsteiger criticised Germany's defence after a shock 2-1 defeat in their World Cup opener against Japan on Wednesday.

The former Germany international and 2014 World Cup winner singled out Niklas Sule, who was utilised at right-back by head coach Hansi Flick instead of his usual position as centre-back.

Germany took the lead through an Ilkay Gundogan penalty in the first half, before goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano dramatically turned things around in the second.

Speaking to German broadcaster ARD, Schweinsteiger said: "We made big mistakes again in defence, and as long as we do that we will lose games, it's that simple!"

The former Bayern Munich and Manchester United midfielder then went into detail on Doan's equaliser, highlighting Sule and substitute Leon Goretzka.

"Now, please, let's pay attention to the behaviour of Niklas Sule and Leon Goretzka," he said.

"Niklas Sule is a defender. And if someone comes at you in a one-on-one, you don't let them run inside, but close the inside lane and let them run out – less can happen there.

"Sule gives [Kaoru Mitoma] the chance to pull inside and play the pass. Goretzka doesn't get there after that and then stops.

"I don't like that. This is not good. This is very, very bad. Sure, the ball then deflects to Doan, but I didn't like the behaviour before that.

"That wasn't good enough for a defender like Sule. It's a classic, really serious defensive mistake."

As Schweinsteiger continued, suggesting Borussia Dortmund defender Sule should have been more aware of the positioning of centre-back pair Antonio Rudiger and Nico Schlotterbeck, fellow pundit and former Germany international Sami Khedira agreed, saying: "That's a very blatant mistake.

"As a full-back away from the ball, you always have to look to the central defenders for orientation."

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