The Blue Samurai were defeated by their Central American opponents by a slim margin of 1-0, with Keysher Fuller scoring the game-winning goal nine minutes from time to completely open up Group E going into the final round of matches.
Hajime Moriyasu’s team is still hoping to advance to the round of 16 for the second straight World Cup, and they are aware that they must beat Spain in order to do so.
If Germany loses to Costa Rica or if the latter loses by two goals or less, they might still advance with a draw, but a loss to La Roja would eliminate them from the competition.
Moriyasu will be anxious to make sure his team puts aside their most recent result and instead replicates their performance from matchday one.
Spain and Japan have never met in a competitive game, with the only previous encounter occurring in April 2001 and ending in a close 1-0 friendly victory for La Roja.
Spain was denied the opportunity to secure their spot in the round of 16 over the weekend after they were held to a 1-1 draw in Al Khor by a significantly improved Germany team.
Alvaro Morata opened the scoring against Germany with his second goal of the competition just eight minutes after coming off the bench. Morata had previously scored the final goal in a thrashing 7-0 opening victory over Costa Rica.
However, Die Mannschaft equalised in the 83rd minute thanks to a substitution of their own, as Niclas Fullkrug fired the ball past Unai Simon to ensure that the two European powerhouses shared the spoils.
Luis Enrique, the head coach of La Roja, is fully committed to his current position despite recent media reports that he plans to leave after the World Cup and return to club management. With a draw against Japan, La Roja will advance to the knockout rounds for the fifth time in the last six finals.
Spain will be confident of winning on Thursday because, aside from a penalty-shootout loss to South Korea back in 2002, they have never lost in 90 minutes in five World Cup matches against Asian opposition.
La Roja have also won their final group fixture in eight of their last nine participations at the World Cup, with a 2-2 draw against Morocco in 2018 the only exception during this run.
1×2 Betting Odds
Japan will be hopeful that they can produce a positive result against the Spanish, but as per the betting market, they are the underdogs coming into this one. Their odds stand @ 9.
The Spanish on the other hand, are the favourites to win this and qualify with odds @ 1.42.
The chances of a stalemate stands @ 5.
Japan’s conflicting results in their opening two group matches make them somewhat of an unknown quantity heading into Thursday’s clash, but Moriyasu’s energetic bunch will relish their underdog energy, as they did against Germany. But will it be enough to over the Spanish, remains to be seen!
Total goals over/under
The odds that the total number of goals score will be over 2.5, stands @ 1.8.
While the odds that the total number of goals will be under 2.5, stands @ 2.1.