Japan and Senegal were the unlikely winners from match day one in Group H, with the two underdogs recording victories that has left them in a strong position to qualify. And, if we get a winner from their clash in Yekaterinburg then they will have one foot in the last 16. Japan will take great heart from their second half performance against Colombia last time out, where they played with intensity and deservedly beat the ten men but they know it will be a tough task against Senegal.
The African side were very good against Poland, limiting them to few clear chances and impressing with their pace and power on the break. Both of their goals had an element of fortune but they won’t care. With the likes of Sadio Mane and Mbaye Niang providing a real threat on the counter with their speed, their game plan will remain the same as they look to soak up pressure and break.
Here we will give you Japan vs Senegal betting tips, look at where the game will be won, the key players and a Japan vs Senegal prediction for the Group H encounter.
Our Japan vs Senegal Prediction: Japan 1-1 Senegal
Our Japan vs Senegal prediction tips is for a tight, cagey encounter with little to choose between the sides and it could be a draw – a result that isn’t too bad for either nation.
Japan played against ten men from the third minute, with a one goal lead, against Colombia last time out and looked awful in the first half. An equaliser for the South Americans sparked them into life and they will need to take that form into the game against Senegal. Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda when he came on, picked up clever positions in the final third whilst the midfield dictated the tempo and moved the ball quickly, which has to happen from the off against the African nation.
Yet, Senegal will be confident themselves. They were much better than a fancied Poland side, stopping Robert Lewandowski and having a big threat up top. One issue would be their build-up play which was ponderous at times but they were very well organised, defended superbly on the whole and had willing runners to trouble the Poland backline who couldn’t deal with them at times.
Our recommended tip – Under 2.5 goals
These are two nations that aren’t at their best when trying to force the issue. Japan are a technically gifted side but often lack penetration and struggle to break down deep defences.
Meanwhile, Senegal are a major threat on the break but unless Japan are chasing the game it’s highly unlikely they will leave themselves in a position to be exposed. Therefore, we are expecting a tight match that may not be a thriller for the neutral, which is why we are going for U2.5 goals. The two styles won’t make for a great game and with both knowing a point is a decent return and will ensure they go into the final matchday in the top two positions, they may not show too much ambition.
The clash at Central Stadium will be the fourth time these sides have met, with Senegal winning the previous two and the first match a draw. However, it will be the first time they have played on the biggest stage.
As mentioned, Japan got off the perfect start with a win against Colombia but the game hinged on an early red card and penalty that went in their favour so it’s hard to judge how good they are. What you can say is that they responded well to an equaliser from the South Americans and that’s a positive. After a lot of negativity about them heading into the tournament, the win was very welcome indeed.
Similarly, Senegal showed what they are all about with Kalidou Koulibaly marshalling the defence, a solid midfield disrupting the opposition and an unpredictable forward line that includes the magnificent Sadio Mane. They will want more from the main man but it highlights how they have real quality in the final third and will want to get those players running at the Japanese defence.
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Players to watch – Shinji Kagawa & Sadio Mane
The Borussia Dortmund player is Japan’s talisman and scored a penalty against Colombia that got them off to a great start. Kagawa will be key for unlocking the Senegal defence with his intelligence and movement whilst he has the ability to pick a key pass from his number ten position. Senegal are a strong, resilient side and have some excellent individual defenders so it could take some magic from Kagawa to open them up.
For Senegal, the star man is Mane. He had an exceptional season with Liverpool and will look to get at Japan with his blistering pace and quality on the ball. He will be a constant threat in front of goal and will look to supply players like Niang and Mame Diouf in the final third. The Japanese will know he is the main threat to them.