After a poor start to their World Cup campaign, Germany are now staring down the barrel of elimination heading into their final Group E match at Qatar 2022.
Her shock defeat to Japan on the opening day put the Germans in a difficult position, but she rallied in her second game against Spain to earn a hard-fought draw.
It means the 2014 world champions, who sit bottom of the group with a point, must now beat Costa Rica on Thursday and hope Spain beat Japan in order to progress to the knockout stages of the competition.
A draw in the other group game could be enough for Germany, but their fate would then depend on goal difference.
Speaking after the vital draw against Spain, Germany coach Hans Flick said he hoped his side would gather some confidence for the tough game at the Al Bayt Stadium after a more positive performance against Spain.
“Maybe it’s the spark we need,” Flick said. “The team fought hard and I’m very happy with their mentality. These are the things we want and we know we have taken the first step.
“We want to have the conditions against Costa Rica to reach the elimination stage.”
Group leaders Spain, meanwhile, need just a point against Japan to secure progress to the round of 16 – and could even afford to lose the match depending on what happens in Germany’s match with Costa Rica.
Spain coach Luis Enrique is determined his side will enjoy their experience in Qatar and has defended his webcast sessions in which he talks to fans.
“The one goal I set for my players … before this training camp 16 days ago, I told them we have to have fun, have fun,” he told reporters.
“We should enjoy this because you should have joy in your work.”
It’s a philosophy that seems to be working; with Spain’s young squad producing impressive performances on the world stage.
Japan, who stunned Germany in their first game, must now spring another surprise by beating Spain after losing to Costa Rica in their last game.
“Tomorrow will be a high-pressure game for all players, but we have to believe in ourselves,” Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu told reporters on Wednesday.
“They have to believe in themselves, they have to. They have to believe in their teammates to fight against our opponent. We hope that they will be at their best and the result will follow”.
Meanwhile, for the three teams in Group F, everything will play out on Thursday.
Belgium, Croatia and Morocco could still qualify for the knockout rounds in what promises to be a fascinating round of matches.
Belgium and Croatia will play each other, while Morocco face Canada, who are already out of the tournament.
Many Moroccans will still be recovering from an emotional victory against Belgium on Sunday, in what was the country’s first World Cup win since 1998 – and third ever.
“If we go through to the knockout stage, I think we will be very dangerous going forward,” Moroccan manager Walid Regragui told reporters earlier this week.
Anything other than a place in the round of 16 will be a huge disappointment for both Belgium and Croatia.
The latter were beaten finalists in 2018 and need only a draw against Belgium to secure progress in the group.
But coach Zlatko Dalic says he refuses to have fun playing for anything other than victory.
“We should not accept the option of having only one point to finish the match against Belgium,” he told reporters.
“There are no easy games. “Belgium needs a win, but we will also aim for victory.”
Meanwhile, Belgium have struggled to find their feet in the tournament so far.
It was largely played despite beating Canada in its first game and suffering a convincing defeat by Morocco last time out.
However, manager Roberto Martinez says his side will be up for the challenge and hopes his star players, such as Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, can turn their fortunes around.
“We must stand together now and become stronger. I know this group, we will be ready for Croatia,” he told reporters.
“We haven’t been the best Belgium in this World Cup yet.”
Croatia vs. Belgium: 10 a.m. ET
Canada vs. Morocco: 10 a.m. ET
Japan vs. Spain: 2 p.m. ET
Costa Rica vs. Germany: 2 p.m. ET
USA: Fox Sports
UK: BBC or ITV
Germany: ARD, ZDF, Deutsche Telekom
Canada: Bell Media
South Africa: SABC