2022 World Cup: Japan, Spain survive chaotic group at Germany's expense; Friday's best bets

2022 World Cup: Japan, Spain survive chaotic group at Germany's expense; Friday's best bets

Be sure to check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Qatar. Here's what you might have missed from Thursday's World Cup happenings, and a look ahead to what's next on Friday.

At halftime of both of Thursday's late matches, it seemed as though one of the World Cup's more intriguing groups would fall in line as predicted: previous winners Spain and Germany would advance, while Japan and Costa Rica would go home.

By the time the final whistles blew, it was Japan topping Group E after beating Spain, with Germany (yes, the team with four World Cup trophies) joining Costa Rica on the outside looking in.

Spain initially were in control against Japan after Alvaro Morata's early goal, with Germany also cruising over Costa Rica thanks to Serge Gnabry's 10th-minute score. But as we should always expect at these tournaments, tables were turned, the scripts were flipped, and chaos ensued.

Both Costa Rica and Japan came out each of their locker rooms after halftime on fire, with each side scoring two goals in their respective games, and all of sudden it was all up for grabs. For a brief spell of two minutes, 55 seconds, even Costa Rica -- who had lost 7-0 to Spain but then rebounded to defeat Japan -- were in the driver's seat to qualify.

When the dust settled, it was Japan -- aided by a controversial VAR decision -- who were group winners after holding off Spain 2-1. Germany rallied past Costa Rica 4-2 but it wasn't enough to overcome Spain's superior goal difference.

Can you see it? Not convinced? Delve into the details over the VAR decision here, or check out ESPN's rules expert extraordinaire Dale Johnson as breaks down the goal that also ultimately sealed Germany's World Cup fate.

ESPN FC's Dale Johnson explains why VAR chose not to disallow Japan's 2nd goal against Spain.

It's a bitter way to exit the World Cup stage, especially for a traditional powerhouse such as Germany. After winning the 2014 World Cup, it is two straight exits at the group stage for the four-time winners.

ESPN FC's Archie Rhind-Tutt labels Germany's World Cup exit as a debacle.


Morocco's win that put them into the World Cup round of 16 as Group F winners was kickstarted by an unfortunate error that led to the opening goal.


Croatia, World Cup runners-up in 2018, stay alive and send a star-studded but disappointing Belgium side home.


Whether due to not qualifying or injury, some of the sport's biggest names are still staying busy (or relaxing).

If you're looking to bet on the World Cup, ESPN contributors Paul Carr, Dan Thomas and Dalen Cuff are here to give you key tips on odds, options and futures. Here's what we have for the Friday's matches.

Paul Carr: Through two group games, Brazil had allowed only 11 shots and 0.5 expected goals, both among the three best defenses in the tournament. I have lineup concerns here too, though less so given Brazil's depth. I like the win to nil bet a lot. I just want to see who is starting first.

Daniel Thomas: Brazil have been the best team of the tournament so far. Even if they rest key players, they are still overwhelmed with quality. I'd go Brazil to win 3-0.

Thomas: Take the under in goals. This is not going to be a fun one to watch.

Carr: I'm on a similar page, in that Uruguay should have a goal or two already, given their 1.9 expected goals. Plus, both of Ghana's games have had plenty of chances, with each team getting at least 1.0 expected goals in each game. I'll take both teams to score at -110.

Thomas: I like Ghana here. They are a great value at +390. Uruguay has not impressed at all so far.

Cuff: South Korea has to win and generated a lot of chances against Ghana. The lineup for already-qualified Portugal will be interesting. I'm not sure I'm going to play this game and will definitely wait to see the starting 11. If it's primarily the group that has led Portugal to wins in this group, I like both teams to score (-115).

Thomas: I also like both teams to score, and I think this is going to be a thoroughly entertaining affair.

Fans in Morocco are celebrating in full force after finishing undefeated Group F, setting up a tantalizing round of 16 matchup with neighbors Spain.

Tom Hamilton reports from downtown Doha as Morocco fans take to the streets to celebrate their country's victory over Canada at the World Cup.

It's a rematch of a 2018 World Cup group stage thriller between La Roja and the Atlas Lions, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Who'll get the bragging rights this time around?

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti defends Morocco after Spain finish 2nd in their group and face them in the round of 16.

There's a lot of hostility here , but victory for either side secures a round of 16 spot.

It's unlikely that Brazil lose, but considering the chaos in both Groups C and E this week means literally anything's possible. A Cameroon win with some help from Serbia/Switzerland would put them in the round of 16.