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Denmark vs. Japan

World Cup Prediction - Analysis

6/24/10

Group E pool play comes to a climax Thursday night at 8:30 pm local time when a high stakes match between Denmark and Japan kicks off. A trip along with The Netherlands to the elimination bracket is dependent solely on the outcome if this game. The pressure will be on Denmark in Royal Bafokeng Stadium as they need an outright win to advance to the elimination round of 16. Even though Japan and Denmark are knotted at 3 points each in Group E scoring, Japan holds a 1 point goal differential advantage, thus the Japanese will advance to the bracket with either a win or a draw. This differential advantage is due to a 2 goal Japanese advantage defensively and Denmark only holding a 1 goal advantage offensively when compared head to head.

Computer generated statistical simulations forecast approximately a 55% chance of Japan winning or drawing the match, leaving Denmark a 45% chance to move through. The main concern for the Japanese team has to be the significant height advantage Denmark holds over them, slightly more than 3"average per player. This advantage should be especially strong in the set piece department, where many balls are played as headers. Unfortunately, Denmark has been struggling with gaining corner kick advantages so far this world cup, only amassing a paltry 4 total from the 2 previous games against The Netherlands and Cameroon. For comparison, perennial teams such as Spain and Italy have gained 24 and 23 corner kick advantages respectively during each of their first 2 contests.

However, the Danish height advantage is apparent with a 100% completion rate of these 4 corners, meaning Denmark did get the first touch on the ball after the cross. Japan must give up as few set pieces to Denmark as possible and remain calm when clearing the ball defensively. Players clearing the ball out the back too hastily can be a frequent occurrence, Japan must be extremely wary of this tendency. Although, this could prove difficult for Japan as they have only legitimately cleared the ball defensively 11 times with only one of those clearances resulting in a possession. Look for Denmark to hold a substantial possession advantage, possibly as much as 60% as Japan will most likely be on their defensive heels. Another important angle to consider is that Denmark had a big come from behind victory in their last game against Cameroon, their top scorer Rommedahl putting in the eclipsing goal. This type of momentum could very well carryover into this match with Japan.

Japan appears to be sending the same unit as last game except for Shunsuki Nakamura could possibly be added to the starting lineup, whereas he came off the bench against the Netherlands. Denmark will have to replace defender Simon Kjaer due to excessive yellow card infractions.

Wagering odds on this event have been drawn up as +120 for a Danish win and +220 for a Japanese win leaving a +230 choice for the draw. Goal line odds favor Denmark as a -180 pick. (Odds courtesy of Bodog.com)An over/under of 2.5 goals has been set with a -175 line on the under, which makes sense considering this is expected to be a high tension defensive game. Trending has Denmark 4-5-1 in their last 10 international games, including a 3-1 beating of the United States. Japan holds a 3-6-1 record in their last 10, respectively. Neither team having a winning record in the last10 is a major concern when looking forward to possible second round elimination match-ups. Whichever team continues through from this game will most likely face Paraguay, the Group F leader.

Weather conditions should play little factor in Rustenburg, Thursday night as the forecast is for clear skies and 50 degrees Fahrenheit at game time. Stateside, this game can be seen on ESPN at 2:30pm eastern, 11:30am pacific.

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