In a 4-3 loss to Italy in their second group game of the 2013 FIFA Confederation’s Cup, Japan impressed with their attacking style … but it was their slip-ups defensively that let them down.
The Japanese surprised Italy by going up 2-0, then let their guard down to go down 3-2. After tying it, they hit the post twice before going down 4-3. Then, they hit the woodwork again before eventually losing 4-3. Instead of explaining to you how the goals were scored, the players that left it all on the field deserve a bit of attention, so let’s give them that much.
Number 10, Shinji Kagawa: He filled his role as playmaker nearly to perfection as he sent beautiful passes to team mates, made runs, held the ball, danced around defenders and even scored a sensational volley from inside the danger area. As the number 10, he did his job — although if he did not head the ball down then out off the bar, his nation could have went up 4-3, but that’s a different story.
Number 9, Shinji Okazaki: The striker ran and played his entire heart out. He pressured the defensive third of Italy so much that he dispossessed Andrea Pirlo on more than one occasion, and he even won the penalty that allowed his team to go up 1-0. He also scored the equalizing goal at 3-3 with a beautiful header. He played with no fear whatsoever against a soccer giant in Italy.
Number 4, Keisuke Honda: The midfielder opened the scoring with a penalty kick against one of the best keeper in the world, Gigi Buffon. He forced a phenomenal save from Buffon in the second half as well. He is an important figure in this team as he controls the midfield and is responsible for taking free kicks. He scored, held the ball and was not intimidated by his opponent.
Japan may have lost 4-3, but they were the overall better side. Even though they are now out of the Confeds, Japan is definitely going places. Watch out for them in next year’s FIFA World Cup.