After recording defeats in their opening game, Japan and Greece face each other after the Colombia vs Ivory Coast game in an attempt to salvage a way through to the next round. Both the teams haven’t been particularly impressive with Japan notably being physically out muscled by Ivory Coast while the Greeks being too slow and clueless in possession. With both teams in strong contention for the second qualification spot at least, we can expect a strongly fought match with the two visibly different sides.
Team News, Key Players and Strategy
The Japanese were hard done against the Ivorians the other day when they stumbled across a physically strong unit and it won’t be any different today as they face a very physically strong Greek side. Kawashima’s mistake the other day, let in a cheap goal that decided the game, something which the Japanese are expecting not to repeat once again.
Key players would be Keisuke Honda, Okazaki and Kagawa, the three who are expected to start behind the striker. The attacking midfielders are the heart of the Japanese team and they depend a lot on their chemistry together to achieve that sort of game which has many people impressed. Keisuke Honda’s well taken goal against Ivory Coast went in vain as they lost the match eventually but that would surely come as a confidence booster for the AC Milan attacker. Shinji Kagawa will have to contribute to the defence as well as offence as the Greeks can be vulnerable on the break as Colombia time and again pounced on them on the counter attack.
Kagawa, Okazaki and Honda have the skills and even the pace to beat a slow moving Greek midfield and with the vision of the Manchester United playmaker, the striker Kakitani as well as the other two attackers are bound to be supplied with good chances to convert. Greece are a very tough side to break defensively as their central defenders have a well-functioning on field chemistry, but Colombia showed that they can easily concede goals if met with trickery and clinical finishing.
The defenders Maya Yoshida and Konno will need to step up immensely if they would need to match the physicality of the Greek attackers. They would have to expect aerial threats and pushing. With an already battered performance against Ivory Coast, Japan’s back four could do better to redeem itself.
The Greeks are no different. Their consistency has had a question mark, not only throughout their qualifying campaign but also in the 90 minutes that they faced Colombia. They heavily missed their favoured target man Kostas Mitroglou and were barely a goal threat while moving forward. They got crippled in possession as they were forced to keep the ball for long spells without having the flair power to break down a relatively average Colombian defence.
They do hold a good advantage considering what we saw in the Ivory Coast vs Japan matchl, as Japan are threatened by the physically powerful teams. Players like Mitroglou and Samaras can really challenge the likes of Yoshida, Konno and Uchida as and when required and they also have the upper hand in terms of midfield strength and experience.
Greece may be underdogs in Europe, but when you put them against Japan, they have a sharp chance to sneak in a favourable result, though the match is expected to be close. Greece don’t enter the game as favourites but they hold a good chance, so they would need their star men Girogios Samaras to fire along with Kostas Mitroglou.
Samaras was not given any space to work his skills against Colombia and was contained by the likes of Mario Yepes and Cristian Zapata. With the Japanese defence being much lighter and physically weaker than the more experienced and stronger Colombian back four, the Greek supporters must be hoping that Samaras finds his best form in order for their team to mount a surge into the tournament.
Mitroglou was not fully fit last match, because of which he started on the bench. But today seems a good enough match for him to start the game especially because of its importance to the team. Mitroglou has a tall and strong frame and Greece would rely on wingers Salpingindis and Maniatis to provide both Samaras and Mitroglou with some juicy crosses to head at.
Author’s Prediction: Team and Scoreline
Greece: Karnezis; Torosidis, Papasthathopoulos, Manolas, Holebas; Salpingidis, Karagounis, Maniatis, Kone; Samaras, Mitroglou.
Japan: Kawashima; Uchida, Yoshida, Konno, Nagatomo; Hasebe, Endo; Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa; Kakitani.
Predicted Scoreline: Japan 2- 1 Greece
Both the teams are strong in their own way. Japan have a lot more pace and technique in their team than Greece which gives them higher mobility and flair. This can be a crucial factor and help Japan overcome the physical Greeks.
TV Telecast and Online Live Streaming
Viewers in India can watch it on Sony Six. Other South Asian countries can watch it in Sony Six as well. Sony Aath offers Bengali commentary for the game as well.
In the United States, viewers have the following options – Univision USA, SiriusXM FC, Univision Deportes En Vivo, Univision Deportes USA,ESPN Deportes, ESPN, AFN Sports.
In United Kingdom, BBC will telecast the game. Talksports Radio can also be used for listening to live commentary.
Sony Six and LIV sports are offering a paid service where they will provide HD quality online streams.
We are also sharing a free live streaming link for the Japan vs Greece FIFA World Cup 2014 game. Copy the link shared below and use it to access the game online.