Japan v Greece – Greeks Means Goals
Japan v Greece
Japan take on Greece in a must-win game for both sides, can either nation resurrect their World Cup hopes?
Both sides kicked off Group C with disappointing defeats in matches where they would have ben looking for a lot more. Making this one a must-win for both teams if they are to qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup.
Japan were narrow 2-1 losers to Ivory Coast in the early hours of Sunday morning, but it could have been much, much different. Alberto Zaccheroni’s men had taken the lead inside the opening 20 minutes through Keisuke Honda and held that advantage until the introduction of Didier Drogba changed the game on the hour mark.
Within five minutes of the former Chelsea striker’s arrival Japan were behind and staring down the barrel of defeat. It was the first loss in seven games for the Samurai Blue, having previously beaten Belgium and Costa Rica and drawn with Netherlands in friendlies.
Greece’s defeat to Colombia in their opening match was, at least in terms of the scoreline, much more emphatic. Fernando Santos’s team showed much more attacking intent than we have come to expect from Greek teams in the past, but it came at a cost with the defence much more vulnerable in a 3-0 defeat.
The Greek’s dominated possession and fashioned just as many opportunities on goal as their opponents. Striker Georgios Samaras has vowed that his side will continue with their attacking philosophy.
Given their inferior goal difference Greece must look for maximum points from this game. A draw would favour Japan slightly more so, but both will be looking for the win.
The introduction of Drogba and the turning point of the match in Japan’s opener coincided, not entirely coincidentally, with Makoto Hesebe being replaced by veteran Yasuhito Endo in the Japanese midfield. Zaccheroni must resist the temptation to turn to his experienced players who have obvious weaknesses for the opposition to exploit.
Fulham’s Kostas Mitroglou was introduced from the substitute’s bench after 64 minutes against Colombia, but could return to the starting XI for this one.
The only previous meeting between these two nations came in the 2005 Confederations Cup in South Africa. Japan emerged as narrow 1-0 winners on that occasion thanks to a goal from Masashi Oguro midway through the second half.
The Match Odds market seems to be unfairly skewed in Japan’s favour with the Asian nation priced at odds of 6/5 for the win and Greece as big as 5/2. The draw is also 5/2. At the odds I’d have to suggest that a win for the Euro 2004 champions is the value bet.
The goals market is where I’m focussing most of my attention here, however. Greece have shown that they are keen to attack at this World Cup, while Japan have scored 18 goals in their last seven matches. Yet Over 2.5 goals is quoted at an odds-against 11/10.