Japan and Greece will be entering the match knowing fully well that a win is needed to stay alive in this tournament. A loss or draw will surely guarantee their exit from the tournament.
Samurai Blue will look to redeem themselves after watching their lead over Ivory Coast slip away in a four minute span after Didier Drogba entered the pitch. Japan’s inability to finish along with poor performances by Shinji Kagawa and Shinji Okazaki caught up to them as Ivory Coast headed in two goals and never looked back. The Japanese felt they didn’t play to their full potential in that match and will look to bounce back with a stronger performance. They will be expected to put their cohesion and brilliant passing game on full display.
Greece on the otherhand needs help in everything. Coming into the World Cup as a top defensive team, Ethniki failed to demonstrate their strengths in a 3-0 loss to Columbia. The team is primed to repeat their 2010 World Cup performance with an early exit if they put on the same offensive performance that they did against the Japanese. The Greeks have struggled to string up a solid combination of passes in their midfield and failed to find a good shot at goal. With a leadfooted backline, it’ll take more than the hand of Zeus to get this team out of the group stages, let alone beat Japan.
Projected Starting XI
Japan: Kawashima, Nagatomo, Konno, Yoshida, Uchida, Hasebe, Yamaguchi, Kagawa, Honda, Okazaki, Kakitani
Greece: Karnezis, Torosidis, Manolas, Sokratis, Holebas, Karagounis, Maniatis, Kone, Katsouranis, G. Samaras, Mitroglou
Keys for Japan
- Stick to the gameplan! Japan should not waiver away from their strategy against Ivory Coast and play that passing possession game that got them to the tournament.
- Big game needed from Kagawa and Okazaki. Japan’s link-up play and finishing touch in the final third on the pitch rests on the play of Kagawa and Okazaki.
- Put a body in front of the cross. Japan’s lack of height and athleticism was exposed in the Ivory Coast match as two crosses were enough to put them in their misery.
Keys for Greece
- Finish off set pieces. Due to their lack of creativity, Greece’s best chance at scoring will come off set pieces. The Japanese players are pretty short. Greece is pretty tall. Do the math.
- Control the ball in the air. Same reason as stated above.
- Kagawa vs Katsouranis – Katsouranis is one steely veteran who won’t go down with a fight. Standing in his way will be Shinji Kagawa who will provide that extra pass to Honda or Okazaki down the midfield on the attack. If Kagawa wants to break out his funk from the Ivory Coast match, taking advantage of the aging Katsouranis will be key.
- Manolas + Sokratis vs Kakitani + Honda – The Greek center backs have their hands full against two dynamic scorers. The Japanese duo are pesky with their off ball movements and love to catch their defenders off-guard. If Greece wants to protect the net, then they need to focus on the players and not get caught ball-watching.
- Karagounis vs Hasebe – If Hasebe shuts down the Greek playmaker, then Greece will never see the ball come near the Japanese box.
Young Kim: 2-0 Japan. Kagawa will breakout and remind Manchester United that he should be in the starting XI next season due to his brilliant play-a-making. This is what Kagawa do!
Charles Kim: 2-0 for Japan. I think Japan will win this game because Greece is just a mess. Honda, Kagawa, and Hasebe will help the team overwhelm the Greek defense.
Drew Thompson: 2-1 for Japan because I really think Greece are not creative enough. Even though Japan lost against Ivory Coast, Greece doesnt really have enough quality going forward to break them down. Ivory Coast won by way of crossing into the box…they didnt break Japan down. Greece is good on set pieces but from the run of play, crossing isn’t their strong suit.
Tags: World Cup