Hiroshi Kiyotake, one of five Japanese to have played in both the German and Spanish top divisions, was happy to see his country join the former World Cup winners in Group E of this year's tournament in Qatar.

Currently captaining Cerezo Osaka in the J. League first division, the 32-year-old said his sentiment was not necessarily just nostalgia from his time in Europe but more from Japan getting to face two title favorites on the biggest stage.

"I've been away from the national team for a while, so I was hoping to see the matchups as an individual Japan fan," Kiyotake, who was last called up in March 2017 before a string of injuries ruled him out of the 2018 World Cup in Russia, told Kyodo News recently.