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World Cup 2022 Daily Preview: Germany, Spain, and Belgium, plus upstart Canada, begin tournament paths

Groups E and F get things underway on Wednesday.

Germany Press Conference - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

Well, the 3rd day of the 2022 FIFA World Cup was full of surprises. Denmark drew Tunisia in a match it was certainly favored to win, while France fell behind early to Australia inside of 10 minutes but eventually powered to a 4-1 triumph. But the big shock was Saudi Arabia bagging a famous 2-1 victory over powerful Argentina behind 2 2nd-half goals in the span of 5 minutes. All of a sudden, Group C has been turned upside down.

We’ll see if things hold to form on Wednesday or if any other stunning results await us as Groups E and F open play.

Here’s a look ahead at Matchday 4 of the 2022 World Cup:

Morocco vs. Croatia — 5 a.m.

How to Watch

FS1, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

The early-bird game sees a Moroccan side that failed to win a game in 2018’s tournament face a Croatian team that fell to France in the final that same year. Walid Regaugui’s men surely understand the task that’s ahead of them after having been drawn into a group with a pair of superpowers in Belgium and Croatia plus a young but skilled Canada. That said, perhaps they can gain inspiration from the Saudis and send another set of shockwaves through the desert sands of Qatar. Croatia, for its part, surely are on high alert after having watched a fellow World Cup favorite come up empty in its opening match.

Player to Watch: Luka Modric

Croatia Press Conference - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Goran Stanzl/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

At 37, it could be the great midfielder’s final World Cup, although he played his cards close to the vest when asked about the possibility during Croatia’s matchday -1 press conference. That said, the Real Madrid man doesn’t need any further motivation after coming tantalizingly close to the program’s 1st-ever world championship over 4 years ago.

Japan vs. Germany — 8 a.m.

How to Watch

FS1, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

What to make of the Samurai Blue following a Round of 16 appearance in 2018? They stunned Colombia in the opening match of Group H and drew Senegal before losing to Poland, then gave Belgium all it could handle before the Red Devils went through with a stoppage-time goal. The work’s arguably much tougher this time around as Japan opens with Germany, who didn’t even make it out of its group last time out after yielding 2 late tallies to South Korea on the final day of the group. Talk about a chip on your shoulder and the pressure of a nation behind you, especially after you’ve won the tournament 4 times in the past.

Player to Watch: Manuel Neuer

Germany Training Session - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Germany’s captain and the man between the sticks is in his 4th and potentially last World Cup, winning it in 2014. At 36, bringing home a 2nd championship after his country’s disappointing turn in 2018 might be the perfect ending to what’s been a brilliant career as the program’s top-choice goalkeeper, and a win against Japan on Wednesday will get him and his teammates on the right foot (no pun intended).

Spain vs. Costa Rica — 11 a.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

The Ticos were a quarterfinalist in 2014 and didn’t get out of their group in 2018 (which included Brazil, Serbia, and Switzerland). Spain, who fell to Russia in the Round of 16 in penalties, have eyes on a 1st championship since 2010. Spain’s probably the favorite to win, but if Costa Rica can come out with a result, it makes the group a little more interesting.

Player to Watch: Keylor Navas

FBL-WC-2022-TRAINING-CRC Photo by RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images

I’m sticking with the Concacaf legend in this one as this looks to be his last hurrah. Of note will be how Navas looks after being delegated behind Gigi Donnarumma at PSG, so there may be some rust to get out of the system against Spain.

Belgium vs. Canada — 2 p.m.

How to Watch

FOX, Telemundo, Peacock (premium)

The Matchup

For the first time since 1986, our neighbors to the North are in the World Cup. Their prize? Needing to face Belgium in the opening match. The Red Devils, on their side of the pitch, have gotten close in their last 2 World Cup appearances, getting to the quarterfinals in 2014 and winning the 3rd-place match in 2018. That said, Roberto Martinez has to know that the Canadians have nothing to lose but will hope to exploit any jitters among a young Canadian team.

Player to Watch: Alphonso Davies

Uruguay v Canada - International Friendly Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

The left-back has gotten the green light to play in the opener, marking the latest bucket list item for the Ghana-born 22-year-old that saw it all start in MLS with the Vancouver Whitecaps before making the move to Bayern Munich. How will he do in his first of what should (hopefully) be several World Cup appearances?