Refusing to let the seven-goal mauling that they suffered at the hands of Spain affect them, Costa Rica dusted themselves down to meet a Japanese side who had gotten the better of Germany only four days before, but it was the Asian nation who would be humbled this time.
An 81st-minute strike from Keyser Fuller did meet the gloves of Japan goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda, but he could only help the ball on its way into the top corner to spark jubilant scenes for the Costa Ricans, whose fate now lies in their own hands once again.
Now sitting in third place with three points to their name – level with second-placed Japan and only one behind Spain ahead of their top-of-the-table clash – Costa Rica will progress to the knockout stages for just the third time in their history with victory over Germany this week.
A draw would also suffice for Luis Fernando Suarez’s men if Spain overcome Japan – whose goal difference of 0 is far superior to the -6 of Costa Rica – but defeat would ensure that they could not add to their quarter-final finish from 2014 or last-16 elimination in 1990.
The 2014 competition marked the only previous occasion that Costa Rica managed to win successive World Cup matches, and while six of the existing crop played when Los Ticos secured a famous 1-0 success over Italy eight years ago, the aging veterans are facing a different kettle of fish this week.
German stomachs dropped when Alvaro Morata’s near-post flick found its way into the back of the net for Spain on Sunday evening, with the 2014 World Cup winners staring down the barrel of yet another catastrophic early elimination from football’s grandest stage.
However, having been given the chance to strut his stuff in the number nine spot by Flick, Werder Bremen talisman Niclas Fullkrug lashed home a thunderous effort in the 83rd minute to rescue what could prove to be a vital point for Die Mannschaft, who also had an Antonio Rudiger goal ruled out for offside on the day.
Nothing less than a win will do for Germany if they are to break into the top two on Thursday, and a victory for Flick’s side coupled with a Spain win over Japan would ensure that the one-point basement side advance to the last 16.
On the other hand, should Spain and Japan play out a draw, Germany would need to win by at least two goals to pip the latter to second place, and if Hajime Moriyasu’s men can pick up a shock win over La Roja, then Flick’s men would need a five-goal swing in their favor to eliminate Spain.
A paltry two wins from 10 in all tournaments is not exactly the sort of form that will inspire confidence within the Mannschaft ranks ahead of such a crucial encounter, where a draw or defeat would consign Germany to successive group-stage exits for the first time in their illustrious history.
Flick could also become the first Germany manager in history to fail to win any of his first three World Cup games, but Die Mannschaft did run out 4-2 winners in their only previous clash with Costa Rica, which came at the 2006 World Cup.
Costa Rica boss Suarez would certainly have wanted to name an unchanged lineup for their final group game, but center-back Francisco Calvo picked up his second booking of the tournament against Japan and will serve a suspension here.
Twenty-one-year-old Daniel Chacon reinforced the backline in the dying embers of that game, but the experience of Juan Pablo Vargas may be preferred from the first whistle against the Germans in a five-man backline.
Sunderland teenager Jewison Bennette was dropped to the bench at the weekend, but with neither Gerson Torres nor Anthony Contreras impressing, the 18-year-old can feel somewhat hopeful of forcing his way back in here.
As for Germany, Flick was boosted by the return of Leroy Sane to the squad for the draw with Spain, with the Bayern Munich man recovering from a knee problem in time to play a part as a substitute.
Die Mannschaft sustained no fresh concerns last time out, and Flick is now faced with a major dilemma in attack following the exploits of Fullkrug, who is challenging Thomas Muller for a place at the tip of the attack.
A likely recall for Sane would likely see Ilkay Gundogan drop into a deeper role – forcing Leon Goretzka out of the team in the process – while Lukas Klostermann and Nico Schlotterbeck are both battling to displace Thilo Kehrer on the right.
Costa Rica’s possible starting lineup:
Navas; Fuller, Duarte, Vargas, Watson, Oviedo; Torres, Borges, Tejeda, Campbell; Contreras
Germany’s possible starting lineup:
Neuer; Klostermann, Sule, Rudiger, Raum; Kimmich, Gundogan; Gnabry, Musiala, Sane; Fullkrug
Costa Rica vs Germany Prediction
Los Ticos have scored just one goal in two games and have recorded just one shot on target in these two games. They have struggled to score in their recent games and might come up short in this match as well.
Die Mannschaft have a star-studded team but has not been able to live up to its potential. They have scored in both of their games thus far and should be able to continue that goalscoring form in this match.
The 2014 champions have struggled in their recent World Cup games but should be able to get the better of Costa Rica, who are winless in 10 of their last 11 games against European teams at the World Cup.
Prediction: Costa Rica 0-1 Germany