United's FIFA World Cup 2022 links: Group E
Our series continues as we move on to Group E and exploring Manchester United's connections with the four teams in the pool...
CURRENT REDS IN THIS GROUP
There are no United representatives in the Spain, Costa Rica, Germany or Japan squads. David De Gea was on the bench for five qualifying games in this tournament, the most recent of which was in November 2021, at home to Sweden.
In terms of Germany, Bastian Schweinsteiger won 121 caps for the footballing powerhouse and lifted the World Cup in 2014. The midfielder's last international appearance was when captaining his country against Finland in August 2016, when he was at Old Trafford.
Ron-Robert Zieler was also in that successful 2014 squad, as third-choice keeper, after being part of United's Academy.
In terms of Japan, Shinji Kagawa was a star for his country and made 57 appearances for the Reds between 2012 and 2014, and represented the Asian nation at the 2014 finals in Brazil.
We are yet to have a player from Costa Rica.
OTHER UNITED LINKS
Spain was the venue for arguably the greatest triumph in the club's history, as late strikes by Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer beat Bayern Munich at Barcelona's Camp Nou to complete the Treble in 1999.
United have had other memorable occasions in Spain, including the 3-3 draw at Real Madrid that ensured a place in the 1968 European Cup final, and there have been some great tussles with the Bernabeu giants and Barcelona, whom we face in the Europa League in early 2023.
We have also played Athletic Club, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna, Real Sociedad, Sevilla, Valencia and Villarreal over the years.
The Reds' second-ever opponents in the European Cup were Borussia Dortmund and we beat Bayern in the aforementioned 1999 final, one of 11 battles with the Bavarians, while RB Leipzig were the last team we faced from the country.
Of course, the club always remains tragically linked to Munich in Germany, following the 1958 air disaster, and fans regularly make the pilgrimage to Manchesterplatz to pay tribute to those who lost their lives on 6 February.
United were crowned FIFA World Club champions in Japan in 2008, defeating Gamba Osaka 5-3 in the semi-final before seeing off LDU Quito in the final in Yokohama.
Discovering links with Costa Rica is difficult but the Central American nation's first-ever World Cup finals goal, scored by Juan Cayasso at Italia 90, was netted past then-United keeper Jim Leighton of Scotland.
Paulo Wanchope, possibly the country's finest-ever outfield player, announced his arrival on the big stage with a remarkable solo strikes at Old Trafford in Derby's shock win against the title-winning Reds in 1996/97. It was one of the best goals by a rival player at the Theatre of Dreams throughout that decade.
GROUP E FIXTURES
WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER
Germany v Japan (13:00 GMT)
Spain v Costa Rica (16:00 GMT)
SUNDAY 27 NOVEMBER
Japan v Costa Rica (10:00 GMT)
Spain v Germany
THURSDAY 1 DECEMBER
Japan v Spain
Costa Rica v Germany
Kick-off times are 19:00 GMT unless stated.