Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni has urged his players to take inspiration from the best clubs in Europe going into FIFA World Cup qualifying.
The likes of Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo all play their club football at the highest level, and Zaccheroni wants his team to perform to the same standard as they prepare for the decisive run of games in Asian qualifying.
“I’ll remind my players we are a team that needs to play with intensity in order to perform. Intensity requires high concentration,” Zaccheroni said.
“This is the method used by teams in the most important leagues; Bayern, PSG, Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Juventus are all teams playing high-intensity football.
“This is the football style I’d like my team to play.”
Japan lead Group B in the fourth round of Asian qualifying by six points and have two matches remaining in early June, against third-placed Australia and bottom side Iraq.
If they avoid defeat to the Socceroos or if Iraq fails to beat Oman on the same match day, Japan will qualify for the tournament in Brazil 2014.
“The idea is that we should control our own qualification and not worry about other results,” Zaccheroni said.
“I expect the team to do well and we will rely on our technical skills, balance and intensity.”
If qualify for next year’s finals, Manchester United star Kagawa is likely to play a big role in determining how far they advance in Brazil.
Zaccheroni will be hoping his prized attacking midfielder brings his best form which has seen him enjoy plenty of success throughout his young career.
“I think Kagawa is used to being a winner,” he said.
“He won two consecutive leagues with Borussia Dotmund, he won the DFB Pokal, he won the Asian Cup, in the last few years he has won several titles.
“I hope he’s still hungry and wants to win more trophies.”