The final set of group games begin tomorrow with Colombia taking on Japan in Group H. The South Americans were one of the most entertaining sides at the previous World Cup in Brazil with James Rodriguez one of the stars of the tournament. And, they will expect to progress to at least the last 16 again in Russia.
Yet, the Japanese will be hopeful of causing something of a small upset in Saransk as they do have a lot of experience at this level and some quality players. Shinji Kagawa is a name that that will jump out to fans and his impressive display in the final friendly before leaving for Russia should ensure he is in the team from the off tomorrow and will be a creative outlet. However, Japan do not head into the tournament in great form over the past 18 months and are expected to struggle.
Here we will give you Colombia vs Japan betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Colombia vs Japan prediction for the Group H encounter.
Our Colombia vs Japan Prediction: Colombia 2-0 Japan
Our Colombia vs Japan prediction tips is for the South American side to emerge with a relatively comfortable victory due to their superior quality all over the pitch.
From Arsenal’s David Ospina in goal to Spurs’ Davinson Sanchez in defence and then Rodriguez and Falcao in the final third, this is a Colombia side that thas a lot of quality. The latter pair should have the cutting edge to open up the Japanese defence and if not they have a lot of pace, power and skill out wide to also cause problems. Quite simply, they are superior in virtually all over the pitch.
There’s not too much for Japanese supporters to be excited about with their side and their friendly results in the past year or so have been alarming. This is a side that don’t score too many goals and are prone to making mistakes in defence. They will try and keep the ball and are technically decent but that cutting edge could be missing.
Our recommended tip – Colombia to win
Colombia have not hit the heights of four years ago in the qualifiers and they have been inconsistent but we’ve stressed about the additional quality and we’d back them to deliver when it matters.
The South Americans should control possession and the pressure will be on them to take the game to the opposition. However, as mentioned, they have players in the team that could excel in that situation and they have the flair to open up the defence. Japan don’t have great pace on the break and that will allow Colombia to pin them back and that pressure should eventually tell.
The fixture at the Mordovia Arena will be the fourth time the two sides have met and their second successive clash at the World Cup. Unfortunately for Japan they haven’t had the best of matches against Colombia and in the 2014 tournament the South Americans won 4-1, although the result was flattering. All in all, Los Cafeteros have won two and drew one in the three games against Japan.
As for recent form, neither nation have been in good form. Colombia made hard work of qualifying and have won just twice in their past nine games. A hugely impressive 3-2 win in France gave the side confidence but successive goalless draws against Egypt and Australia were slightly worrying. As for Japan, prior to beating Paraguay they lost three successive games against relatively modest opponents and performances were also alarming.
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Players to watch – James Rodriguez & Shinji Kagawa
We’ve mentioned Rodriguez many times and it was this tournament that took him to superstar status and saw him get a move to Real Madrid. Now at Bayern Munich, he has had a fine season and will be the creative force for his nation in this tournament. He can drop deep, feed passes, run with the ball and score goals. He is the talisman and will be expected to be influential against Japan.
For Japan, their number ten is Kagawa and the Borussia Dortmund man will have a similar responsbility for his nation. He will look to find pockets of space and will be the man tasked with helping Japan keep the ball and look to open up the defence.