Spain and Japan make five changes each for final group clash

Spain's Sergio Busquets and Cesar Azpilicueta during the warm up before the matchReuters

Spain coach Luis Enrique made five changes for his team's final World Cup Group E match against Japan on Thursday as the Reds seek to avoid a defeat to qualify for the next round, bringing in defenders Cesar Azpilicueta, Pau Torres and Alejandro Balde.

Strikers Nico Williams and Alvaro Morata also got the nod while captain Sergio Busquets, who is a yellow card away from a suspension, remained among the starters at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu, seeking a win against the 2010 world champions to be sure of a last-16 spot, also made five changes from the side beaten by 1-0 by Costa Rica.

Japan's Hidemasa Morita and teammates during the warm up before the match

In defence, Shogo Taniguchi comes in for Miki Yamane, Japan's third right back in three games at the tournament after Hiroki Sakai was injured in the 2-1 win over Germany. Ao Tanaka was brought in as a holding midfielder.


Japan: Shuichi Gonda, Shogo Taniguchi, Ko Itakura, Yuto Nagatomo, Takefusa Kubo, Hidemasa Morita, Junya Ito, Daichi Kamada, Ao Tanaka, Maya Yoshida and Daizen Maeda.

Spain: Unai Simon, Cesar Azpilicueta, Pau Torres, Sergio Busquets, Alvaro Morata, Gavi, Nico Williams, Alejandro Balde, Rodri, Dani Olmo and Pedri.