Sunday, January 29, 2023

Prediction: Japan vs Spain

Tom Dunstan in Free Soccer Predictions, World Cup 29 Nov 2022

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Verdict: Spain win & Under 4.5 goals

Best Odds: 8/11

Bookmaker: Unibet

With it all still to play for in Group E on Thursday night, Spain will look to finish off the job when they meet Japan in Doha.

Japan

Starting with Japan, while Hajime Moriyasu’s men might have opened their World Cup adventure with a famous 2-1 victory against European giants Germany last week, the Samurai Blue certainly came crashing back down to earth over the weekend. Despite dominating large spells of their meeting against Costa Rica, they were eventually hit with a sluggish 1-0 loss and will know that they missed out on a golden chance. However, while Japan might open Thursday’s meeting sat second in the Group E standings and with their sights set on punching their knockout stage ticket, Moriyasu’s side will know that they face a tough test here. It should also be noted, signing off their pre-World Cup preparations with a 2-1 loss at the hands of fellow finalists Canada, the Blues have picked up just a single victory from any of their last four appearances across all formats.

Team News

Putting in a toothless display last week in their 1-0 loss against Costa Rica, Moriyasu could be tempted to make a handful of changes on Thursday night.

Former Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino will be hoping to make his first full World Cup appearance in Doha. Likewise, Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu could also come into Moriyasu’s defence after missing out against Costa Rica.

Spain

As for Spain, while La Roja might have been left frustrated after throwing away their late lead against Germany last weekend, Luis Enrique’s men should find the mood in their camp at a continued high. Despite eventually playing out a 1-1 draw against their fellow European heavyweights, the one-time Barcelona boss finds his side sat firmly in pole position to punch their knockout stage ticket. Opening this year’s World Cup with a real statement as they cruised their way to a 7-0 romp against Costa Rica, the former world champions will simply be looking to finish off the job here. Continuing on what has been a real youthful resurge over recent times, Enrique’s youngsters have gained plenty of plaudits. Along with securing their spot in the semi-finals of this year’s Nations League during September’s international break, Spain have lost just one of their previous 13 appearances across all competitions.

Team News

Coming off the bench against Germany last weekend and now bagging back-to-back World Cup strikes, Alvaro Morata will be hoping for a full recall on Thursday night. The Atletico Madrid striker could come in and replace Marco Asensio.

Manchester City’s Rodri should once again partner teammate Aymeric Laporte at the heart of La Roja’s defence here.

Key Factors to Consider

    • The only previous meeting between Spain and Japan came back in 2001 as La Roja picked up a 1-0 victory in a friendly contest.
    • Spain have lost just one of their previous 13 appearances across all competitions.
    • Suffering a 1-0 loss at the hands of Costa Rica last weekend, Japan have recorded just a single win from any of their last four matchups across all formats.
    • Atletico Madrid striker Alvaro Morata has now bagged back-to-back Group E strikes.
    • Likewise, the Samurai Blue have recorded just a pair of victories from any of their previous 10 World Cup appearances.

    Conclusion

    While Spain might still have some work to do on Thursday night, the former world champions will simply be looking to avoid a real banana skin in Doha. Suffering just a single defeat from any of their 13 appearances across all competitions, La Roja have impressed many over the past fortnight. Watching Japan come crashing back down to earth last weekend as they were hit with a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Costa Rica, the Samurai Blue will know that they face a tough task here. Although Moriyasu’s men might still be looking to punch their own knockout stage ticket, we’re backing a fairly straightforward night for Spain.

    Verdict: Spain win & Under 4.5 goals

    Best Odds: 8/11

    Bookmaker: Unibet

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Tom Dunstan


    Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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