For the second game in a row Japan were disappointing in their incisiveness in the attacking third of the pitch when they failed to break down a Greek team playing with 10 men for a large part of the match and this again may see some changes in midfield and attack though at this stage it is unclear what these will be.
In central midfield Hasebe was subbed at half time against Greece as he looks to be struggling with his fitness still, this may see a start for Endo alongside Yamaguchi.
Kagawa was dropped to the bench for the last match due to his poor performance in the opening game. As the attack didn’t improve without him it is likely he will come back into the team on the left side of the attacking midfield. Okubo surprisingly started there in the last match and lacked the threat of Kagawa with the ball at his feet.
The main dilemma for Japan is who to start in attack. Kakitani has not been given a start yet with Osako starting both previous games. It is difficult to see what option they will go with in a game they need to win and not much has been given away yet. It seems any of Osako, Okubo and Kakitani could start.
Bench (from): Gonda GK, Nishikawa GK, G. Sakai RB/LB, H. Sakai RB, Inoha CB, Morishige CB, Aoyama DM, Hasebe CM, Kiyotake AM, Saito LW, Kakitani ST, Osako ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Motivational Keys to the Game:
There has been a big frustration over the results and performances in the opening two games. Having lost from a leading position in the Ivory Coast match and also failed to break down Greece despite playing against 10 men for a large part of the game. Nothing but a win will do here for Japan and the pressure is high for them to get it.
• Caught between wanting to rest players ahead of the Round of 16 and ensuring a first-place finish.
• Need a point to guarantee top spot, but it is not really in their nature to play a negative style.
• With only Bacca missing out due to injury Pekerman has plenty of good options if he wants to rotate.
Colombia have already qualified for the Round of 16 thanks to wins in their opening matches against Greece and Ivory Coast. However, with Ivory Coast just 3 points behind them they need at least a point here to guarantee top spot. Interestingly that looks likely to set them up for a match with either Italy or Uruguay, as Costa Rica are surprise leaders in Group D, but Jose Pekerman may still see that as the preferred tie given the way those two teams fared up against the CONCACAF nation.
His team selection will be very interesting here as he needs to maintain a balance between picking a team to win and giving rests to any of his players who are struggling with knocks. Fortunately he does have plenty of options despite Carlos Bacca’s thigh injury, with Jackson Martinez yet to start a game in attack, Juan Quintero superb when coming off the bench to score in the last game and Freddy Guarin having not even played a minute so far. In addition to this Santiago Arias has appeared off the bench twice for Pablo Armero and Alexander Mejia twice for Abel Aguilar, so they are obviously players he trusts.
Quintero should have done enough to start ahead of the ineffectual Victor Ibarbo, though his inclusion would see James Rodriguez moved out to the left. Arias will hope to get the nod over Armero as he offers more defensive solidity, though this is less likely, while the others waiting for their chance may also be disappointed once again too.
Bench (from): Mondragon GK, Vargas GK, Arias RB, Alvarez CB, Valdes CB, Mejia DM, Guarin CM/AM, Ramirez CM, Quintero AM, Carbonero RW, Ibarbo RW/SS, Martinez ST
Tactical Keys to the Game:
Motivational Keys to the Game:
Football Form Labs Betting Preview:
Japan (28) v Colombia (6), Tuesday 24th June 21:00 BST
With six points from their opening two games and a +4 goal difference Colombia have virtually secured their progress into the knockout stage as Group C winners. They will likely face the winner of the earlier Uruguay v Italy match in the Last 16 and will surely rotate their squad here. As such, it’s probably wise to treat this game with caution until the starting line-ups are announced but no matter what XI Jose Pekerman names they will test this Japanese defence.
Colombia were superb against both the Ivory Coast and Greece as they extended their unbeaten streak to ten matches and they’ve now scored at least twice in their last five. Colombia are also unbeaten in seven Finals matches with four victories and six clean sheets. They’ve only previously faced Asian opposition once in a Finals since 1990 when they beat the UAE 2-0 but they’ve won six of their last 10 against teams ranked 21-40 with five wins to nil. Colombia have kept a clean sheet in both meetings between these sides this century.
Japan are 8.5 to qualify as they need to not only beat Colombia but also hope the result between Ivory Coast v Greece goes their way as well. Japan have disappointed, particularly in attack, in their two matches so far and they could easily struggle again here. The Asian side have now conceded at least twice in 13 of their last 20 Internationals and many worse teams than Colombia have scored at least a brace including Zambia, New Zealand, Australia and China. Japan have won just four of their 19 Finals matches since 1998 and they’ve lost their two matches against top-10 teams in that sample. More generally, Japan have lost 20 of their 30 matches against top-10 sides since 1990 shipping an average of 2.10 goals per game.
Teams with six points from their opening two World Cup matches have won 6/11 final group stage matches against teams with 0-2 points in their opening two games since 1978. Moreover, South American teams have gone W17-D4-L0 against Asian teams in South America since 1990.
Although they will likely rotate their starting line-up, whatever 11 players take to the field for Colombia should be too strong for Japan. The market seems to have moved against Colombia because they don’t need to win but nine points from their group would be an impressive building block as they head towards the knockout stages and the price available on the South Americans is too large to ignore.