Japan lost to the Ivory Coast before tying against Greece in their first two World Cup matches. Now they host Colombia who won their first two games, thus guaranteeing their Round of 16 spot. This still puts a lot of pressure on the team that has to win this game in order to book their place in the last 16.
Japan have been playing some quick, intelligent and accurate soccer, but they have been unable to score more than once in World Cup games. A 2-1 loss to the Ivory Coast dented their confidence, but drawing against a Greece side who played the majority of the game a man down seemed to hurt them even more. Now they face a high-flying Colombia side with nothing to lose as they will want to win their third group game to gather all nine points.
Colombia is not a team that will sit back and take the pressure as the head coach will give a chance to the younger guys looking to make a good impression. This means they will still play their passing and running game to full effect which could send a lot of trouble towards Japan’s third throughout the game. They are especially dangerous on the counter with players like James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Juan Quintero bursting up the field during these possessions.
Japan’s Keisuke Honda will have to play a better role as he has only scored one goal which is the lone score for his nation. Shinji Kagawa needs to forget about his lack of confidence and snap right back into his old form. In addition, Atsuto Uchida and Yuto Nagatomo as the wingbacks have to press up the field and send in crosses both in the air and on the ground, looking for the easy tap-in or header. These guys are fast so they need to use that speed and skill to aid the offense which has been lost.
Prediction: Colombia 2, Japan 2
The Colombians will hit two goals, while the desperation of Japan does produce a couple of decent strikes but also leaves the defense vulnerable.