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Japan - World Cup Preview

History in the World Cup

The Samurai Blues have qualified for the FIFA World Cup 6 times. Japan had to wait 68 years for its first appearance in 1998, but since then they have qualified for every World Cup till date. Their results are mixed, getting to the knockouts 2 times (2002 & 2010) while failing in the group stage 3 times (1998, 2006 & 2014). The Asian powerhouses have never gotten past the Round of 16, but will be looking to break that barrier in the upcoming competition.

Recent results

Japan has played 17 times since the start of 2017, and they have been inconsistent throughout this period. While they did notch up some fantastic wins against Thailand, UAE and China, they drew against a spirited Mali side while being conquered by Brazil and Belgium. Overall, they won 7 times, drew 4 and lost 6 times during this period, and while you could say that the quality of teams they lost to was world-class, you can’t say the same for some of the teams they beat. They are winless in their last 4 games, and will be looking to break that streak courtesy of friendlies against Switzerland and Paraguay as warm ups for the World Cup.

Squad Manager: Akira Nishino Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Metz), Masaaki Higashiguchi (Gamba Osaka), Kosuke Nakamura (Kashiwa). Defenders: Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), Tomoaki Makino (Urawa), Wataru Endo (Urawa), Maya Yoshida (Southampton), Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg), Gen Shoji, Naomichi Ueda (Kashima). Midfielders: Makoto Hasebe (Eintracht Frankfurt), Keisuke Honda (Pachuca), Takashi Inui (Eibar), Shinji Kagawa (Borussia Dortmund), Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), Genki Haraguchi, (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Takashi Usami (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe), Ryota Oshima (Kawasaki). Forwards: Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), Yuya Osako (Werder Bremen), Yoshinori Muto (Mainz).

Danger Man

Who else but Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa? The all time leading Japanese scorer in the Bundesliga, he will be the key to Japan’s fortunes. He has tallied 31 goals for Borussia Dortmund and has been influential in their success over the past few years. His hold up play and passing is very good and while he doesn’t have the strength to win aerial duels, he can win the ball back on the ground.

Ranking FIFA- Current 60            Highest 9 ELO- Current 44           Highest 8

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