By: Jason Green
Date: Tuesday June 19th
Time: 1:00 PM
Match Odds: Columbia -155 / Japan +475 / Draw +265
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Columbia boasts a solid attack and they are the favorite in this match facing Japan. ACCording to the FIFA rankings Columbia is ranked 16th in the world and Japan is ranked 61st. These teams met in the group stage in the last World Cup in Brazil were Columbia beat Japan 4-1 on the way to their best ever World Cup finish advancing to the quarterfinals.
While Columbia does have a good attack on paper and has 2014 Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez as well as Radamel Falcao the squad only scored 21 goals in their 18 World Cup South American qualifying matches. On top of that they played to a couple of 0-0 draws in their last two friendly matches leading up to Russia.
Akira Nishino is the manager of Japan and has only been at the helm for three matches. They had lost three friendlies in a row before winning their last one beating Paraguay 4-2. The Japanese have given up two goals in each of their last two Games and they need to shore up their defense for their World Cup opener.
While Columbia are not huge favorites Nishino stated last month that beating Columbia would be a “small miracle.”
Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina lead the Columbian defense that has only conceded two goals in their last Four matches and both came in a solid 3-2 win over France. The Japanese defense really has to keep tabs on Rodriguez and Falcao, who play in Bayern Munich, on loan from Real Madrid, and Monaco respectively.
While Columbia made the 2014 World Cup quarterfinals only 10 of the 23 players on that team are playing in Russia.
The Japanese have many veterans on their squad and the main players are Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda, who were not even on the squad until Nishino took over.
This is only the 3rd time these teams have ever met with Columbia winning two and one ending in a scoreless draw.
Japan plays a very tactical brand of soccer, but they may let loose more with Nishino at the helm. Still, their defense is a major issue considering they allowed two goals in each of their last two matches facing Switzerland and Paraguay, who are a couple of teams not known for their attack.
This is a Group H encounter and while Poland and Senegal are seen as stronger than Japan Columbia cannot take them for grated, as they really need the three points with two tough group matches remaining.
Last Three Matches
23/03/18 France 2 Columbia 3 (Friendly)
27/03/18 Colombia 0 Australia 0 (Friendly)
01/06/18 Egypt Columbia 0 (Friendly)
30/05/18 Japan 0 Ghana 2 (Friendly)
08/06/18 Switzerland 2 Japan 0 (Friendly)
12/06/18 Japan 4 Paraguay 2 (Friendly)
Prediction: Columbia has the stars up front, but will they be able to take advantage of a struggling Japan defense? Yes, they will. While the Columbians will not Scorea ton of goals they will win pretty comfortably by a score of 2-0 bagging the all-important three points.