Japan have named a very strong squad, including 12 European based players from Germany, Italy, England and Belgium – most notable of which are Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa. They have 7 from Germany, Uchida and the Sakai’s being the most notable, as well as Mainz forward Shinji Okazaki. Here is their full squad:
GK’ – Eiji Kawashima / Shasaku Nishikawa / Shiuchi Gonda
DF’s: Masato Morishige, Yasuyuki Konno, Yuto Nagatomo, Maya Yoshida, Masahiko Inoha, Atsuto Uchida, Hiroko Sakai, Gotoku Sakai
MF’s: Yasuhito Endo, Keisuke Honda, Shinji Kagawa, Makato Hasebe, Hiroshi Kiyotake, Hataru Kamaguchi, Toshihiru Aoyama, Manobu Saito
FW’s: Shinji Okazaki, Yoichiro Kakitani, Yuya Osaka, Yoshito Okubo
Coach: Alberto Zaccheroni
Japan did well in Qualifying, despite finishing 2nd to Uzbekistan in the 3rd round (their first), and then finished strongly in the final round, finishing top with 17 points from 8 games.
Ones to Watch:
Keisuke Honda – a rather obvious choice, but should he hit top form like we have seen for CSKA, he could fire them into the last 16. It has not quite happened for him so far at AC Milan, but with all the change going on its bound to affect players.
Shinji Kagawa – often mistreated at Man Utd under David Moyes, much like Honda he has the potential to put Japan into the latter rounds. He is their key play-maker, and should make the team a joy to watch!
Shinji Okazaki – this man has been key to Mainz’ success this season, scoring vital goals all through the season. At times clinical, often wasteful. This guy must finish what is provided from the aforementioned duo.
(4-2-3-1/4-3-3): Kawashima, Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo, Endo, Hasebe, Kiyotake, Honda, Kagawa, Okazaki
We are not 100% sure of this, but as far as previous games go they use one of these two tactics. Maya Yoshida may not be fully fit either, so you may see either of the Sakai duo in his place. I fully expect the front three we have chosen to start, as they are their star players. Endo is their most capped player, so we also expect him and Hasebe, the captain, to start in central midfield.
With Colombia and Ivory Coast in their group, they are expected to bow out early. Here are some odds selected (Not tipped):
Group Winner – 4/1
To Qualify – 11/10
Finish Bottom – 2/1
Elimination: Group – 8/13, Round of 16 – 15/8
Over 3.5 Group Points – Evens
This is a hard one – we expect Colombia to qualify top, and it’s a toss up between the Japan and Ivory Coast, as we think Greece will finish 4th in this group. I think they have a good team, with some real talent, and may well pull this off and get into the last 16 – 11/10 to Qualify is a great price, but our Top Tip for Japan is Over 3.5 Group Points – Evens – I can see them beating Greece and grabbing a point against one of the other two.