This time last year, Niclas Füllkrug was scoring away at Holstein Kiel in Germany’s second tier as his Werder Bremen side lost 2-1 on the coast of the Baltic Sea. One year on, in just his second international appearance, he was rescuing his nation from the brink of a second consecutive group stage exit at the FIFA World Cup.
Oddschecker, which compares from bookmakers such as Betway, had predicted that the Germans would reach the second round of the tournament at a canter, but following an opening day defeat to Japan, those predictions were in tatters.
Germany manager Hansi Flick knew that his side needed a result in their second game against Spain, but they came perilously close to a second consecutive defeat following Alvaro Morata’s hour-mark opener in Al Khor’s Al Bayt Stadium. However, the Germans showed their famous fighting spirit and battled back.
Jamal Musiala came close but they remained a goal down as the game entered the final ten minutes. Step forward Füllkrug. The 29-year-old substitute lashed home an equalizer with barely seven minutes remaining to keep up his side’s hopes of progressing to the last 16.
Spain are currently in the best position. A 7-0 thumping over Costa Rica and now a point against Germany sees them sit at the top of the group on four points and with a goal difference far better than their counterparts.
They know that avoiding defeat against Japan will see them through to the last 16. If they were to lose, they need to hope that Germany avoid defeat against Costa Rica while simultaneously not beating the Central Americans by seven goals.
For Japan to guarantee qualification, they need to beat Las Rojas. If they were to draw or lose, that would open the door for both Germany and Costa Rica, with the winners of that tussle progressing at their expense. If both matches end as a draw, Japan would progress on goal difference.
For Costa Rica, the job at hand is simple. If they beat Germany they will progress to the second round. They will progress with a draw if Spain beat Japan. Lose, and they are out.
The Germans also must win; however, they need Spain to avoid defeat in order to guarantee progression. If Japan draw and Germany win, then the 2014 champions would progress on goals scored. If the Blue Samurai beat Spain, then Hansi Flick’s side need to beat Costa Rica by seven goals to progress.