Germany vs Japan: World Cup Group E Preview, Round 1, 2022
(Photo by Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto - Getty Images)

Germany has won the World Cup four times, but in recent years, they have looked far from their former selves. Crashing out of the European Championships to England last year and failing to make it past the 2018 Russia World Cup group stage will only add to Die Mannschaft's desire to get back to winning ways.

But to get their 2022 campaign off to a good start, they must battle their way through a resurgent Japanese side that looks capable of causing an upset at Khalifa International Stadium. With Daichi Kamada, Kaoru Mitoma, and Takumi Minamino in attack, the Samurai Blue have an interchangeable front three that can terrorise Germany's backline if given the chance.

The Germans come into the fixture having only won twice in their last eight games, with a 1-0 warmup victory against Oman last time out.

Japan, on the other hand, are looking in better shape going into Qatar, with four victories in their last eight, including a 2-0 triumph over the USA, a 4-1 dispatching of Ghana, and a comfortable 3-0 over South Korea in the EAFF East Asian Cup. 

This will be the first time these two nations have faced each other in a major tournament, while Germany have won in their only two meetings, in 2004 and 2006. 

  • Team news

Germany are expected to be working with a fully-fit squad for the opening matchday barring the questionable Leroy Sane, with striker Niclas Fullkrug back from illness and the duo of Thomas Muller and Antonio Rudiger also returning to full training over the weekend.

Returning to the national team following his exile, Muller is now aiming to build on a record of 10 goals and six assists in 16 World Cup matches for Germany, and the Bayern Munich veteran will hope to get the nod to spearhead the charge.

As for Japan, Karou Mitoma and Wataru Endo have overcome illness and a head injury respectively to make themselves available, while Sporting Lisbon midfielder Hidemasa Morita is back from a calf problem and could be fit enough to start.

Arsenal right-back Takehiro Tomiyasu was rested against Canada following his recent muscular problem but should be fine to take his place in the team,  alongside skipper Maya Yoshida in the heart of the defence.

Attacking options are rife within the Samurai Blue's ranks for the World Cup, and Takuma Asano's greater international experience compared to his fellow forwards should work in his favour.

  • Likely lineups

GermanyNeuer; Kehrer, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Gundogan; Hofmann, Musiala, Gnabry; Muller

Japan: Gonda; Sakai, Tomiyasu, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Morita, Endo, Kamada; Mitoma, Asano, Minamino

  • Key players

Joshua Kimmich

It's in midfield where Germany are strongest, and a lot of that is down to Kimmich's role in the pivot of a midfield three. The Bayern Munich man has come a long way from his days as a youngster as he exhibits a maturity beyond his years to boss games almost all by himself. 

A well-oiled machine, Die Mannschaft will instil a philosophy that midfield wins games, and why wouldn't they with the likes of Kimmich and Gundogan in their ranks. 

Karou Mitoma

The Samurai Blues are an exciting team that likes to use the width to their advantage. It is perhaps Mitoma of Brighton & Hove Albion who embodies this idea the best.

With his explosion and movement with and without the ball, the left-sided winger is bound to be a nuisance to any defender he finds himself up against in Japan's World Cup campaign. 

  • Match details

Where is the game being played?

The match is being played at Khalifa International Stadium. 

What time is kick-off?

Kickoff is at 1:00 PM GMT.

Where can I watch?

The game is live on BBC One for fans in the UK.