4 p.m. update: Japan beat Spain to win Group E and will face Croatia in the Round of 16. This will mark the fourth time these two squads have faced off. They are 1-1-1 in the previous matchups. Japan beat Croatia in the Kirin Japan Cup in 1997, Croatia beat Japan in the 1998 World Cup, and they played to a draw in the 2006 World Cup.
Croatia is headed to the Round of 16 at the 2022 World Cup. The squad played Belgium to a scoreless draw on Thursday and that was enough to secure advancement. Morocco won the group with a 2-1 win over Canada.
As the second place team in the group, Croatia will face the winner of Group E in the Round of 16. That squad is unknown heading into Thursday afternoon’s final group play at 2 p.m. ET. The match will take place on Monday at 10 a.m. ET at Al Janoub Stadium.
The Group E standings are fairly wide open, with all four teams alive for a knockout stage berth and all but one still alive to win the group. Last place Germany is the only squad that cannot win the group and thus cannot play Croatia on Monday. However, they are heavily favored against Costa Rica at DraftKings Sportsbook, and with Spain a big favorite against Japan, the Germans have a strong chance of advancing.
Croatia is back in the knockout bracket for the second straight tournament. Four years ago, they finished second, losing to France in the final.