Japan started their World Cup 2014 preparations with a friendly against Uruguay as the South American's seek to improve their game for the upcoming crucial qualifiers against Peru and Colombia.
Both teams started with strong sides with Keisuke Honda and Shinji Kagawa leading the Japanese attack, whilst Uruguay opted for the hugely successful Diego Forlan and Luis Suarez partnership.
Both teams were constantly attacking as neither are well known for their possessional football. The direct approach to this game from both sides resulted in a very entertaining match with plenty of shots on goal from both sides.
To give you a perspective of the game, the scoreboard could have read 3-2 within 30 minutes from kick-off. This type of football continued all throughout the game as both sides showed impressive stamina and determination.
Forlan scored two goals for Uruguay, the first from open-play and the second from a free kick. Suarez provided the assist for the first goal and got fouled which led to the free kick for the second goal.
He scored a goal of his own as Uruguay took a 3-0 lead in the 53rd minute. Two minutes later Kagawa scored and the last goal of the game was provided by Honda from a beautifully struck free-kick in the 72nd minute.
The game itself showed the problems Japan has face outside of Asia. As shown in the Confederations Cup and these types of friendlies, Japan struggle to win games when they can't entirely depend on the attacking force of the team.
In Asia they have the best attack and can therefore press down teams in their own half and dominate the game. Whilst this works in Asia, against better teams they also have to face the fact that they will be put under pressure themselves and their defence can't seem to handle that.
The direct play combined with a unorganised defence leads to a lot of conceded goals, something they can't accept if they want to progress from the group stages of the World Cup next year.
If they use the remainder of the friendlies and training camps to test and strengthen their defence and then combining that with their pacey, and creative offence, they could be a major force at Brazil 2014.
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