FIFA WORLD CUP 2018 – Japan vs Poland PREVIEW
Not many saw this coming. Japan are facing Poland, only one of these sides are still alive and it’s not Poland. The underdogs Japan have done great and have put themselves in a great situation to advance, meanwhile Poland have been one of the most disappointing sides and are already eliminated, playing this game for pride. Will Japan take their opportunity against the sluggish Poland, or will they bottle it?
Japan have been one of the most surprising packages of the tournament so far. A nation who have beat Colombia and drew with Senegal have made their fans believe that they can truly accomplish more than just qualifying to the tournament. Japan have clearly shown intent to go further instead of just participating. Now Japan are in a great position, knowing that they can advance if they at least pick up a draw against an out of form Polish side. So let’s look into what Japan have done this tournament. They first beat Colombia 2-1, a game where they may have been a little lucky as Colombia played with 10 men and without James for pretty much the whole game, but the fact that Japan capitalised on it is very important. Colombia still made it tough for them and pegged them back with 10 men, but eventually Japan scored again and won the game against the mighty Colombia.
In the second game Japan were also thoroughly impressive. They faced a good Senegal side who were also coming off a win and it was a tougher test due to having to play against 11 men and them not missing their stars. Japan pretty much played a similar style, they controlled the possession for the most part, created decent chances, but unlike in the first game, Japan were the ones having to chase the game after going down twice. They pulled the game back twice after being down 0-1 and 1-2 showing great mental strength to overcome adversity. They went toe to toe with Senegal and ended up drawing with them 2-2. Japan have scored 4 goals in 2 games which is a good ratio.
The standout players for Japan during these two games would have to be Inui, Nagatomo and Honda. Inui and Nagatomo have probably been the two best players, Nagatomo has been providing great energy on the wing, defending and bombing forward including getting an assist against Senegal. Meanwhile Inui has overall looked like their best player he’s been the best creator and has scored himself a goal and provided an assist against Senegal while putting in a good shift against Colombia. Finally, Keisuke Honda has provided good moments coming off the bench. In the first game he delivered a ball that ended up as a winning goal and in the second game he scored the second equaliser against Japan. Honda has come off the bench to take part in two very clutch goals for Japan which is mainly the reason they’re top of the group. These three players have been the best players for Japan so far, we may even see Honda start if he keeps performing like that, he may be ageing but he can still deliver at the world cup.
To put it nicely, Poland have underperformed. There are many words to describe their performance at the world cup. They have simply not turned up, they’ve been god awful, we honestly don’t understand what happened to them. Lewandowski has been a no show other than like a couple of moments where he looked like scoring but got denied. Poland are officially eliminated and from being a team who were expected to get out of the group, they are only playing for pride in their last game. There have literally been nothing to brag about Poland, other than a top headed goal by Krychowiak against Senegal, they’ve been horrible. Defensively Poland have sucked with Glik not starting, going forward they barely created anything, they’ve been leaky and made a lot of mistakes.
Poland lost to both Senegal and Colombia in their world cup. They lost 2-1 to Senegal after some terrible defensive mistakes and a poor deflection, they got outmatched by Senegal physically and didn’t look up to scratch in the game in general which led to a defeat. Many thought they would put in a better shift in the second game, but it didn’t work out that way. Poland were even worse against Colombia. In an elimination game for Poland they lost 0-3. They got ripped to pieces by Colombia. James Cuadrado Quintero and Falcao had a field day going forward. Poland couldn’t cope with the Colombian movement and pace. Even when Poland went down 0-1 they looked uninterested. At the back they couldn’t do anything and weirdly enough coach Nawalka decided to bring on Glik with 10 minutes to go being down 0-3 which was just a confusing move. Lewandowski did have a couple chances but got denied by Ospina. Overall it was a shocking Polish performance and it was a performance that was deserving of knocking them out. No players have stood out for Poland, everyone has been awful.
Expect Japan to dominate possession in this game. They have done so against both Colombia and Senegal so coming up against sluggish Poland we don’t see there being a change of play for Japan. Their coach has said that they can’t try to play for a draw because there’s always a chance of getting punished and if they lose all of a sudden we’d have to look at goal difference and they don’t have an advantage in that aspect over either Senegal or Colombia. So Japan will come into this game with a plan to try to win the game. Can’t see much rotation in the Japanese side, doubt Honda starts because he’s been such an impactful player off the bench. Japan will most likely stick to what has worked so far. As for Poland they’ll be playing for pride, expect them to set out to go forward too. Poland are an attacking side, we may see some sort of rotation in the lineup since they’re out and their starting 11 have been awful anyway. Doubt Glik plays because he’s not 100% fit so that will only mean that Polish defence will be shaky again which is something Japan could exploit. Lewandowski will most likely start however, this might be his last game at the world cup so he’ll be motivated enough to get into the record books. The keys for Japan are that they must exploit the Polish defensive weakness, they’ve been very leaky and with the goal scoring form that Japan are in it’s something they can exploit. Also Japanese CB’s have to be on it, especially Yoshida knowing that Lewandowski is going to be hungry for goals. As for Poland, they have to show some sort of urgency, they’ve been attacked by the media enough for them to have motivation to show some sort of pride after two disastrous performances. Lewandowski has to be in form and so does everyone else. Defensively they can’t afford to be leaky again.
This prediction will be based off how both teams performed so far. We don’t believe we’ll see a quick turn in form from Poland. Poland have been awful and we think that if they haven’t turned up when their world cup was alive, then how comes they’ll do so now that it’s over? Japan will dominate the game, their midfield and attack play has been solid, they’ve created lots of chances and given the way Poland defend, it’d be hard to imagine Japan not scoring a few goals. As for Poland, expect Lewandowski to get his world cup goal since Japan are not very good at the back themselves, but other than that it’s going to be pretty much the same. Don’t expect to see any urgency from Poland, and Japan have more to play for in this game and we believe Japan will win this game 3-1.
1 Japan 4 pts +1 GD
2 Senegal 4 pts +1 GD
3 Colombia 3 pts +2 GD
4 Poland 0 pts -4 GD
ODDS – Decimal (WilliamHill)
Japan Win – 2.50
Draw – 3.00
Poland Win – 3.00
KICK OFF – 28th June 2018 – 3pm UK Time