Japan came into this World Cup with real belief that they would have a chance of getting out of their group and into the knockout stages for only the third time. The passion and expectation of their supporters is rampant and they expect their warriors to deliver.
Things haven't gone quite to plan at the moment a loss to Ivory Coast and a goalless draw with Greece leaves them on just a solitary point and in third place in the group, only a win against already qualified Colombia will do and judging by the way the South Americans have started this tournament it will be a challenge indeed.
There has been the problem that they have lacked goals and haven't looked a major threat going forward they dominated possession against Greece, infact they had 68% albeit the Greeks had been reduced to ten men after Katsouranis received two yellow cards and yet they still couldn't make the extra man pay.
Japan's game plan is usually to keep possession and let their midfielders drift into holes in the opposition defence and this was evident against Greece and the Ivory Coast where they for most part looked the better team, but again its back to their lack of clinical finishers and power going from midfield.
A lot has been expected of their midfield stars such as Kagawa, Honda and Nagatomo all flair players and play for top European sides but have all had disappointing seasons, and a lot was made of how they would step up to the plate this tournament, but their tendency to perhaps overplay the ball too much and lack of direct play has possibly hampered their game plans.
The talent of the side is not in question whatsoever, in the past seven Asian cups they have been champions four times and unlike conventional champions who sometimes stutter during these cup runs they have been undefeated in all of their cup triumphs, it seems they have had a smattering of talent developing over the years and they might be one or two world class players away from becoming a real threat in future tournaments.
Another major threat for Japan is the willingness of their two overlapping fullbacks to get forward, against Greece Uchida and Nagotomo got forward on many occasions and their deliveries were decent just a lack of a powerful striker willing to take a gamble, three of their strikers do ply their trade in Germany and Okazaki scored 15 goals last season so they do have players who can put the ball in the net but I believe they have already played their games that they could have possibly won.
I can't see them beating Colombia on the final game of the group stage and even if they do the must rely on Greece beating Ivory Coast and hoping they don't score more goals than them, it maybe a case of them looking towards developing their younger players and making a impact in the four years between the next World Cup, but I believe like African football it is evolving all the time and it has shown this tournament that more teams are becoming a threat and it wont be long before we have another first time winner of the World Cup.
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