World Cup Group C | Natal | Thu 19 Jun | 11pm
A ‘must not lose’ for the toothless twosome.
Now what? will be the question on the lips of these two teams after their best-laid plans were torn to shreds by opening-game defeats.
Japan’s was at least going to script for a half against Ivory Coast, the Samurai Blues' pressing and possession leading to one goal and few defensive worries. But after the introduction of Didier Drogba and two quickfire goals, they were simply overpowered, surrendering possession cheaply and rarely looking like equalising.
As poorly as Greece played against Colombia – in attack and defence – this clash of styles may suit them better than Japan, who like to pass through the middle, relying on their full-backs to provide the width. Greece’s counter-attacking game, which came unstuck as soon as they conceded early against Colombia, should get another outing then, and they’ll be hoping to exploit Japan’s weakness at defending crosses.
Alberto Zaccheroni, meanwhile, will have to work out how to pick the lock of a defence that will surely be much improved. Expect a low scorer.
What the local media say
Greekreporter.com blasts Fernando Santos for having “the temerity” to say the 3-0 defeat to Colombia was closer than the score looked, insisting the Greeks “must improve in defence” and calling the game against Japan “a final”.
Key battle: Shinji Kagawa vs Vasilis Torosidis
The Manchester United schemer admitted himself to having a poor game against Ivory Coast, insufficiently helping out his full-back down the left as Serge Aurier surged forward to cross for two assists and having little impact in attack. He can ill-afford such a poor outing against Greece, whose right-back was arguably their most dangerous players against Colombia. As the graphic shows, Torosidis repeatedly stormed forward, setting up Theofanis Gekas for a chance he should have buried.
Facts and figures
- Greece have conceded an average of 2.6 goals per game at the World Cup, the highest ratio amongst the 32 teams involved in this tournament.
- Keisuke Honda has been involved in 4 of Japan’s last 5 goals at the World Cup (3 goals, 1 assist). He is Japan's top scorer in the competition (3 goals).
- Giorgios Samaras has attempted more shots without scoring at the World Cup than any other Greek player (9, including blocked shots).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Japan to edge a nervy encounter. 1-0.