FIFA World Cup Team Analysis – Japan

Japan is in Group C for the 2014 Brazil World Cup. Japan was the first team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup and this is their fifth consecutive World Cup appearance. Japan’s main threat is scoring from the air as they have scored 30% of goals from headers, which made them the 7th highest to do so among the qualifying teams. They utilized their wing plays to deliver high aerial balls which resulted in close-range goals but goal scoring in general was somewhat of a problem. Japan is notable for its silky play and its attacking flair and they would want to bring a lot of it on the group for 2014.

Japan FIFA World Cup Team Analysis

They have not scored more than once in only 36% of their matches. They also had a problem in scoring late goal. Defensively they had trouble with wing plays and struggled to keep players off the goal area. Their defensive troubles had resulted in three defeats in the Confederations Cup last year mainly because of their four soft-centre backs. It is because of these defensive issues that Japan has a low number of clean sheets.

Italian coach Alberto Zaccheroni has made the team into an attacking unit capable of scoring against tougher teams. This was Zaccheroni’s first foray into international coaching. Zaccheroni was also accused of favoritism as he continues to persist with defender Yasuyuki Konno even-though the defense has issues and the same was met with skepticism in Japan.

Japan’s key player will be Keisuke Honda, who was also part of the last World Cup outing for Japan. Honda played central striker during the last outing and proved his mettle by scoring in crucial moments. Honda, who is calm during possessions, has since moved back and is playing behind the main striker. His ability to read games and his playmaking skill are a great asset to Japan. Another key player would be the midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who is also an adept play-maker. Kagawa, who plays for Manchester United, also has an attacking presence which he displayed by scoring many vitals goals during the qualifying stages. Then there is defender Yuto Nagatomo, who plays for Inter Milan, and striker Shinji Okazaki, who would provide a great support for Honda. Forward Yoichiro Kakitani, the young newcomer, would also be a player to watch out.

Japan have to make the most of their chances to get through the group matches as they would be challenging. Their header-based strategy could pay off against Greece, who occasionally looked vulnerable through the air. Since wing play have not yielded higher number of goals against Greece and Ivory Coast, it would be difficult to deliver the ball.

The current style of play utilized by Japan ensures it to be more entertaining. While their attack can pierce through most the teams, their defense would be their greatest weakness.

Japan plays their first game against Ivory Coast on June 14th. With Japan’s fluid play and Ivory Coast’s high-tempo starts, this game would be a good one to watch.

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