Germany come into this tournament with arguably as many questions about their longevity as Japan do. The Germans won it in 2014 and have been a season-in, season-out disappointment since. Japan have failed to match their reputation as the top team in Asia for a long time now. Despite both teams boasting some excellent talent (and leaving some great players back at home), they arrive at the tournament with more queries than solutions.
Japan, meanwhile, have picked a conservative line-up that is shorn of more or less any attacking stars. While the likes of Costa Rica and Spain pose excellent threats, Japan appear to have arrived at the tournament having borderline conceded they will be heading home early regardless. Germany, then, have a rare chance to build up a massive head of steam and win comfortably in a group stage match against a team coming to Qatar to absorb pressure.
Who will win this tie?
Germany, with some to spare. Japan simply have not got the attacking talent in their line-up to bother Germany. Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi has been left at home as the Samurai Blue go for a more conservative, less offensive approach. This will see them look to press and keep the opposition at bay, and counter quickly using their collection of interesting attacking midfielders.
Right now it would be hard to say with any certainty that Japan will even take a point in this group. Germany should win on the opening game without much real challenge at all.