Japan will be seeking to capitalize on their stunning triumph over Germany when they take on Costa Rica in their next Group E match on Sunday.
On Wednesday, Hajime Moriyasu’s team defeated four-time world champions Germany 2-1 to kick off their 2022 World Cup campaign, while Costa Rica lost their opening match 7-0 to Spain.
Ilkay Gundogan’s penalty kick gave Germany the lead against Japan on Wednesday in the 33rd minute. However, two substitutes helped Moriyasu’s side bounce back, with Ritsu Doan tying the game in the 75th and Takuma Asano scoring the game-winning goal in the 83rd.
As they have in the past when it comes to moving beyond the group stage, the Samurai Blue have now placed themselves in a great position to advance to the next phase of the competition. In fact, Japan has made it to the round of 16 three times before, most recently in 2018, when they placed second in Group H before falling to Belgium in the knockout stage’s first round.
There is no way to understate the significance of this game, especially because Costa Rica will be coming off a humiliating loss to Spain, while Moriyasu’s team will end their group stage against Spain on December 1.
Japan have encountered Costa Rica five times in international football matches, all of which were non-competitive affairs. Of those five meetings, Japan have won four times, including a 3-0 victory in September 2018.
For the third time in a row, Los Ticos are participating in the World Cup. Incredibly, they made it all the way to the quarterfinals of the 2014 tournament after winning Group D over Uruguay, Italy, and England and defeating Greece on penalties in the round of sixteen.
The last squad to qualify for the World Cup, Luis Fernando Suarez’s team, lost to Spain 7-0 in the opening match of the tournament on Wednesday.
On December 1, La Tricolor will play Germany in their final group-stage encounter. It is unlikely that La Tricolor will stand out in this group, but they will be trying to give their fans something to cheer about against Japan.
WHEN & WHERE?
Where: Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Qatar.
When: Sunday 27th November.
Time: 10:00 am BST.
Hiroki Sakai missed training on Thursday owing to the ailment he sustained against Germany, making him an uncertainty for Japan. Sakai’s logical alternative would be Takehiro Tomiyasu, but the Arsenal defender will need to demonstrate his fitness over the course of the next few days as he was also absent from practice on Thursday.
36-year-old Yuto Nagatomo should be fit to start this game at left-back. He was also replaced in Japan’s win against Germany due to injury concerns.
Takuma Asano could replace Daizen Maeda in the starting lineup for this game after coming off the bench to score the game-winning goal against Germany.
In the meantime, Costa Rica have not confirmed any injuries from their loss to Spain. Although head coach Suarez is likely to resist the urge to make changes to his lineup following the defeat to La Roja, there might be an alteration at the back, with Kendall Waston perhaps replacing Carlos Martinez.
However, Joel Campbell should once more be joined by Anthony Contreras in the final third of the pitch, and there is no doubt that the manager will be expecting a significantly better showing in this match. Bryan Ruiz and Alvaro Zamora are among those vying for slots on the side.
Japan’s lethal counterattacks and their ability to win the ball in the middle of the pitch helped them record an unexpected win against four-time champions Germany in their opener of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Japan spent the first half of the game trying to find their problems and also Germany’s and ended up conceding a goal in the process.
Their 4-4-2 shape while defending helped saw the Germans with a numerical superiority up front and hence helped David Raum find the spice a countless number of times behind Hiroki Sakai and Takehiro Tomiyasu. This is what helped Germany win a penalty as Raul was fouled inside the box by Shuichi Gonda.
However, the second half was a completely different story as the Samurai Blue shifted to a 5-man backline and completely altered their shape. They patiently waited as Germany loosened their grip on the game and managed to cause them several problems, two of which ended up being goals.
Costa Rica on the other hand also lined up with a 4-4-2 mid-block against Spain. This proved to be a wrong approach as the Spanish thrashed them 7-0 while enjoying 82% possession and completing 1045 passes which is one of the highest to be ever recorded at a World Cup game.
When it comes to the upcoming game, both sides will throw caution to the winds as they look for a win before their tough last encounters of the group stage with Japan facing Spain and Costa Rica facing Germany respectively. This is a game where both sides could go into with an attacking approach as they aim to fight for a chance in the knockout stages of the 2022 World Cup.
Premier League players to keep an eye on
Takehiro Tomiyasu & Kaoru Mitoma
In the 2022–23 Premier League season, Takehiro Tomiyasu has not had one of his best seasons. Many believed that he would start every week for Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal. That hasn’t happened, though. His chances of starting for his team at the World Cup have also been affected by his club performance.
Hiroki Sakai, the starting right-back for Japan, is a serious question mark. So this situation could flip against Costa Rica. He might be able to convince Hajime Moriyasu of his value, and who knows? Maybe things will turn around for him at his club as well.
Kaoru Mitoma has been an important player for Brighton & Hove Albion this season. He may have scored and assisted just one each in 9 games but has been indirectly involved in a lot of goals for the Seagulls. Moreover, his overlapping run was critical for Japan’s equaliser against Germany.
Japan predicted XI vs Costa Rica: Gonda; Tomiyasu, Itakura, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Endo, Tanaka; Ito, Kamada, Kubo; Asano.
Costa Rica predicted XI vs Japan: Navas; Waston, Calvo, Duarte, Oviedo; Tejeda, Borges; Bennette, Fuller; Campbell, Contreras.