Japan will face Columbia in match-day 1 of the FIFA World Cup 2018. With the kickoff less than four hours away, 27 out of 28 betting companies have indicated that Japan are 5 times more likely to lose than they are to win.
To give a brief history, four years ago in the 2014 World Cup games, Japan fell to Columbia 1-4. With the round of 16 hopes on the line, Japan couldn’t handle the offensive force led by Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez as the Samurai Blue conceded 3 goals in the second half. Will history repeat itself?
Well, the talent in Columbia’s national team will be tough to handle for Japan. Columbia have a strike-force led by James Rodriguez and veteran Radamel Falcao and a defensive crew that includes David Ospina at GK and Zapata at CB. The Columbian squad have physical attributes that overpower the smaller Japanese side.
Columbia definitely has some weaknesses that Japan can capitalize on. First off, Columbia’s offense has not seen much success in recent games. They only scored a dull 21 goals in 18 qualifier games. Also, James Rodriguez’s start is in question as he has experienced a training injury days before the match.
The Japanese side aren’t all that bad either. Japan has some talented, veteran players to lead the way. These players include Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Maya Yoshida, and Shinji Okazaki, who have all had much success on the international stage. Most notably, Honda, Kagawa, and Okazaki were stars on the national team that reached the Round of 16 in the 2010 World Cup. Furthermore, the first few days of the Cup have already seen some upsets. Mexico defeated Germany in a thrilling match, while Iceland and Switzerland successfully held off Argentina and Brazil, respectively, to ties. Japan can do the same.
Being a Japanese person, I am obviously a biased commentator. However, as we have seen time and time again, anything can happen in soccer. Japan doesn’t necessarily need a miracle, either. Despite being the underdogs, the Samurai Blue aren’t a weak side. Regardless of how the match turns out, we can expect to enjoy a clash of two ambitious teams.
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