HANSI MAN GERMANY kick off their quest for a record-equalling fifth World Cup with a meeting against Japan.
The 2018 campaign in Russia ended in a miserable group stage exit, so Hansi Flick’s side will be desperate to right their wrongs from four years ago.
Although expectation is not particularly high for the 2014 champions, who have reached at least the semis in four of the last five tournaments.
Japan on the other hand reached the Round of 16 in Russia, and Germany will be desperate not to avoid a slip up, especially with Spain also in the group.
The Samurai Blue are skippered by former Southampton star Maya Yoshida, with Arsenal ace Takehiro Tomiyasu providing more defensive solidity.
Here, SunSport previews the Group E clash as Germany look to avoid a repeat of their disastrous 2018 campaign.
Hansi Flick’s side face Group E opponents Japan in first World Cup clash
How did they get there?
Germany: The 2014 champions breezed through qualifying, winning nine out of their 10 games en route to Qatar.
Their only loss was a shock 2-1 defeat at home to North Macedonia.
But their qualifying campaign did include a 6-0 win against Armenia and a 9-0 victory over Liechtenstein.
Japan: The Samurai Blue finished second in their group during the third round of Asian qualifiers to seal their spot in tournament.
They qualified automatically, behind Saudi Arabia, winning seven out of their 10 games.
What’s the form?
Germany: The Germans aren’t on the best of runs going into the tournament, winning just two out of their last eight games.
That includes two draws against England, and a shock home defeat to Hungary in September.
The four-time winners edged past Oman 1-0 in a friendly last week in far from convincing fashion.
Japan: The Samurai Blue lost a friendly against Canada last week after conceding in the 95th minute.
But they did register an impressive 2-0 win over USA back in September, with Brighton ace Kaoru Mitoma one of the scorers.
Underestimating them would be foolish.
Who are the managers?
Germany: Hansi Flick is the highest-paid manager at the World Cup, earning a reported £5.5MILLION-a-year.
The 57-year-old took over in 2021 after a two-year spell with Bayern Munich that saw him guide the Bundesliga side to Champions League glory.
He also spent eight years as Germany assistant manager from 2006-2014, winning the tournament in Brazil eight years ago.
Hansi Flick won the World Cup with Germany as assistant manager.
Japan: Hajime Moriyasu was appointed manager of Japan immediately after the last World Cup.
The 54-year-old led them to the final of the Asia Cup in 2019.
But his side were beaten by this year’s World Cup hosts Qatar.
Hajime Moriyasu will be hoping to upset the odds with Japan at the World Cup.
Serge Gnabry has been in fine form for Bayern Munich this season.
How Germany could line up against Japan
Japan: KYOGO FURUHASHI is likely to start up front for Japan, and he could pose some problems for the Germans.
The 27-year-old has been a revelation since joining Celtic in the summer of 2021.
Furuhashi has netted 10 times in 13 Scottish Premiership games this season, and has 31 goals in 53 games for Celtic overall.
Kyogo Furuhashi will be hoping to replicate his club form at the World Cup.
How Japan could line up against Germany
What’s the head to head?
Germany wins: 1
Japan wins: 0
Which TV channel will show the game?
Germany vs Japan will be shown live on ITV 1 in the UK.
The game will also be streamed live on ITVX.
What are the odds?
Germany win: 4-9
Japan win: 33-5
Germany may not be in the best of form, but, 2018 aside, they turn up when the World Cup comes around.
And their exciting attackers, mixed with the experienced Thomas Muller and Joshua Kimmich, should be too much for Japan.