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Japan vs. Paraguay
World Cup Round of 16
John J. Raspanti
Not many experts picked Japan and Paraguay to make it to the round of 16. Being seated alongside Italy might have made the Paraguay squad pause a bit, but they ended up finishing atop in Group F. Paraguay opened the Cup with a 1-1 tie against Italy, and then beat Slovakia 2-0. Their final match with New Zealand was in a way a disappointing 0-0 draw, even though they outshot there opponents 17-4. Japan began the World Cup in a lower position than any of the other teams in Group E. They got by Cameroon 1-0, but then lost a tough 1-0 match to Netherlands team that was heavily favored going into the game. They rebounded against Denmark by winning 3-1 in what was easily their most impressive performance.
Paraguay has mixed up their styles during the Cup, playing very disciplined against the Italians...and then attacking Slovakia. Enrique Riva has played well in all three games as has Oscar Cardozo but if it comes down to one player Japan has the advantage. Keisuke Honda is quick and clever, having scored two goals and assisted in another. Honda is also blessed with a very powerful left leg, he and Yusuhito Endo are masters of the free kick. Coach Gerado Martino is very aware of Honda and Endo's ability...
"Obviously from what we saw the other day, we need to try not to concede fouls near the area" he remarked.
Japan is also concerned that they are becoming a bit predictable...
"One thing we will have to try and do is vary our set pieces to surprise them," said Japan defender Tulio.
This is very definitely a game of contrasting styles. Paraguay can attack or lay back depending on what is happening.
"They will be trying everything to rile us," Japan defender Marcus Tulio Tanaka said. "They are smart. Against New Zealand they were not taking risks and were just waiting to pounce on mistakes."
Japan is all about resiliency, work ethic and grinding it out. They stick to the basics and carry it out effectively. Paraguay with there creative play will most likely come out aggressively against Japan. Japan will realize this and counter back hoping to get Keisuke Honda involved around the goal as much as possible with set-pieces.
In a battle of grit and determination, versus creativity and flair...look for Paraguay to prevail.
Though, at this point in the tournament, you simply can't count anyone out. There are no pushovers left. The current odds on this match favor Paraguay at +110 with the price on Japan set at +275. You can also wager on a draw after 90 minutes with a price of +210. The over/under, or total is set a 2 goals, but once again, remember, this is for 90 minutes of play only and does not include the shootout if there is one.
These odds are averaged out from our Top Rated Sportsbooks.