Verdict: Over 1.5 goals
Best Odds: 4/7
Two nations who are desperate to book an automatic route to this year’s World Cup finals, Australia will welcome Japan to the Accor Stadium in Sydney on Thursday morning.
Starting with the hosts, while Australia might have already at least guaranteed themselves a spot in the fourth-round of this year’s qualifying adventure, they are seeking some kind of stability. Last seen on February 1st when throwing away the lead twice and having to settle for a late 2-2 draw away at Oman, Head Coach Graham Arnold has seen his side pick up a single point in three of their last four outings. Marking their return to action on Thursday morning sat three points adrift of breaking into the top-two, the Socceroos should at least be boosted by their continued success on home soil. Last seen in front of their own supporters claiming a thumping 4-0 win against Vietnam in Melbourne, Australia have remarkably not lost a single World Cup qualifying contest at home in any of their previous 29 straight contests, a run that stems all the way back to June 2018.
Bagging 12 A-League goals with Melbourne City this season, striker Jamie Maclaren should lead Australia’s charge on Thursday morning.
Along with Real Sociedad keeper Mathew Ryan, Celtic’s Tom Rogic has also been included in the Socceroos squad.
As for the visitors, last seen on February 1st when claiming a hugely impressive 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia on home soil, the mood in Japan’s camp should be at a red-hot high. Sat in pole position to book an automatic ticket to this year’s World Cup finals, Head Coach Hajime Moriyasu has seen his side collect 18 points from their eight Group B matchups. In fact, in the midst of a five-match winning run, it should also be noted that the former Asian Cup champions have gained a host of plaudits for their continued displays at the back. Along with shipping just five qualifying matchups so far, Japan have recorded four clean sheets on the spin. Looking to lay down another marker when they make the trip to Melbourne on Thursday morning, Moriyasu’s side will be boosted by their most recent meeting against their top-two rivals. When the two sides faced off back in October, Japan picked up a 2-1 victory on home soil.
Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino could be joined by Celtic’s Reo Hatate in attack on Thursday morning.
Despite originally being included in Japan’s squad, the trio of Yuya Osako, Daizen Maeda and Hiroki Sakai have had to withdraw due to injury issues.
Key Factors to Consider
- When Thursday’s opponents faced off back in October, Japan picked up a 2-1 victory on home soil.
- Australia are remarkably unbeaten in each of their previous 29 World Cup qualifying home fixtures, a run that stems all the way back to June 2018.
- Including a 2-0 victory against Saudi Arabia last time out, Japan have won each of their last five Group B matchups on the spin.
- Eight of the last nine meetings between Australia and Japan have finished with over 1.5 goals.
- Including back-to-back strikes on international duties, Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren has scored 12 A-League goals this season.
Last seen claiming an eye-catching 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia on February 1st, Japan find themselves in the midst of a real purple patch. Sat in pole position to book an automatic spot at this year’s World Cup finals, they also hold a three-point buffer over Thursday’s opponents. However, despite claiming a 2-1 win when they last faced off against Australia back in October, the Socceroos do hold a rather rampant qualifying record on home soil. In fact, the hosts are remarkably unbeaten in each of their previous 29 World Cup qualifying home fixtures, a run that stems all the way back to June 2018. It should be noted, with eight of the previous nine meetings between the two sides finishing with over 1.5 goals, we’re backing a similar outcome here.
Verdict: Over 1.5 goals
Best Odds: 4/7
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