Today at the World Cup: Nations bid to succeed where Germany and Belgium failed

The 2022 World Cup group stage comes to an end on Friday, with Brazil and Portugal both looking to secure top spot as they push on into the last 16.

Portugal are already assured of qualification from Group H ahead of their final game against South Korea, who will be out if they lose or draw, while Ghana can progress if they beat Uruguay.

Having won their opening two group G matches, Brazil will be looking to sign off in style when they take on Cameroon who need a win to still have a chance to go through as must Serbia against Switzerland, who currently sit in second place.

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There was more drama on Thursday night as both Germany and Belgium failed to make it out of the group stage as Japan and Morocco booked their place in the last 16.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at what is coming up on Friday and how Thursday’s action unfolded.

Suarez not sorry

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez feels he has nothing to apologise for as he prepares to face Ghana again (Adam Davy/PA)

Luis Suarez stressed he would not be apologising for his handball in Uruguay’s 2010 World Cup quarter-final against Ghana as the sides prepare to meet again on Friday.
Suarez was sent off in the final moments of extra-time, with the score at 1-1, after keeping out a Dominic Adiyiah header on the line with his hands, only for
Asamoah Gyan to miss the resulting spot-kick and Uruguay then won the subsequent shoot-out.

“I don’t apologise about that because I did the handball, but the Ghana player missed the penalty, not me,” Suarez said.

No split loyalties for Bento

South Korea manager Paulo Bento
South Korea manager Paulo Bento was born in Portugal (Nick Potts/PA)

South Korea’s coach Paulo Bento will sing both national anthems before his side bid to recreate their result of the 2002 World Cup and beat his native Portugal.
Bento – set to serve a touchline ban after being shown a red card in the defeat to Ghana – admits he remains a proud Portuguese, but is focused on South Korea getting the result they need.

“I was born Portuguese, I will die Portuguese and I am very proud of my nationality,” Bento said, “but also I am very proud of coaching these players for more than four years now.”

Portugal talisman Cristiano Ronaldo remains a fitness doubt after missing Wednesday’s training.

Alves roles back the years

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Veteran defender Dani Alves will become Brazil’s oldest World Cup captain in their final group game against Cameroon.

The 39-year-old, who now plays in Mexico for UNAM Pumas, will wear the skipper’s armband as Tite prepares to make changes, with top spot in Group G guaranteed if they avoid defeat.

“I’ve been with the Brazilian squad for many years and to be able to wrap up this cycle, playing a World Cup, makes me very happy,” Alves said.

Stojkovic going for broke

Serbia’s head coach Dragan Stojkovic
Serbia’s head coach Dragan Stojkovic will not let his side sit back against Switzerland (Francisco Seco/AP)

Serbia, with just one point from two games, must beat the Swiss – whose preparations have been hit by a virus in the squad – if they are to hold any hope of progressing to the last 16.

Serbia coach Dragan Stojkovic has vowed to get on the front foot at Stadium 974.

“We need to decide on our destiny,” he said. “You can’t win if you don’t attack.”

Germany sent packing

Germany’s Kai Havertz looks dejected
Germany suffered another early World Cup exit (Adam Davy/PA)

Following a shock defeat to Japan in the opening game and a scrappy draw against Spain, the four-time world champions knew only victory would keep their dreams alive.

Serge Gnabry gave the Germans an early lead at the Al Bayt Stadium, where France’s Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a match at the men’s World Cup.

However, Costa Rica equalised through Yeltsin Tejeda in the second half before going ahead when Juan Pablo Vargas bundled the ball in.

Germany hit back through a double from substitute Kai Havertz before Niclas Fullkrug wrapped things up late on, but the fate of Hansi Flick’s men had already been sealed.

Samurai Blue strike again

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Japan produced a stunning comeback to beat Spain 2-1 at the Khalifa International Stadium and secure top spot in World Cup Group E.

Alvaro Morata’s early header had Spain in control, but Japan turned things around in the space of five minutes at the start of the second half.

Substitute Ritsu Doan equalised before Ao Tanaka netted another – which was allowed to stand following a lengthy VAR review after the ball had appeared to have gone out of play.

The Samurai Blue held out for another memorable victory, which set up a clash with Croatia for a place in the quarter-finals.

Marvellous Morocco

Morocco players celebrate after securing their place in the last 16 as Group F winners
The Atlas Lions celebrated securing their place in the last 16 as Group F winners (Mike Egerton/PA)

Morocco advanced to the knockout stage of a World Cup for the first time in 36 years after beating Canada 2-1 at the Al Thumama Stadium.

Chelsea winger Hakim Ziyech was gifted the opener and Youssef En-Nesyri doubled Morocco’s lead.

An own goal from Nayef Aguerd gave Canada renewed hope just before the break and substitute Atiba Hutchinson hit the crossbar during a much-improved second half – but the Atlas Lions held firm.

Belgium bow out

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Belgium came into the tournament sitting second in FIFA’s world rankings, but failed to impress and were stunned by Morocco in their last game.

The Red Devils, though, again drew a blank against Croatia, with second-half substitute Romelu Lukaku seeing a late chance hit the post.

Following the match, head coach Roberto Martinez confirmed his time was up. “We’ve been able to build a real legacy,” the former Everton boss said.

Picture of the day

Japan v Spain – FIFA World Cup 2022 – Group E – Khalifa International Stadium
After a lengthy check, VAR ruled Japan’s Kaoru Mitoma (left) had managed to stop the ball going out of play (Mike Egerton/PA)

Tweet of the day

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Who’s up next?

Group H: Ghana v Uruguay (3pm, BBC Two)
Group H: South Korea v Portugal (3pm, BBC One)
Group G: Cameroon v Brazil (7pm, ITV1)
Group G: Serbia v Switzerland (7pm, ITV4)