2014 World Cup: Japan vs Colombia preview

June 23, 2014
By: Nemanja Lazarevic

Japan vs ColombiaJapan go into the final group game knowing that even a win might not prove enough as they trail second-placed Ivory Coast by two points.

Meanwhile, Colombia will probably finish first even in case of a defeat, but los Cafeteros will want to continue the great run of results.

Japan might not be out of the competition just yet, but the reality is they have already missed their chance to secure qualification.

The Blue Samurai lost the opening fixture against Ivory Coast despite taking the lead and then had another opportunity to make things right having faced Greece last Friday.

But, they largely struggled to carve out any clear-cut chances even with Kostas Katsouranis send off before the half-time break and were somewhat fortunate to avoid defeat.

As a result, Alberto Zaccheroni’s men find themselves in a very difficult situation as they need to defeat Colombia and Ivory Coast to lose in order to reach the knockout stages.

And even though Japan will almost certainly be facing second-string Los Cafeteros side, odds of 3.20 (11/5) offered on home win are not too tempting.

The good news is there are no fresh injury worries for Alberto Zaccheroni, but Shinji Kagawa and Yasuhito Endo are set to be recalled.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Kawashima – Uchida, Konno, Yoshida, Nagatomo – Yamaguchi, Endo – Okazaki, Honda, Kagawa – Okubo.

While many other group favourites have largely struggled to live up to the billing, Colombia have produced two stunning performances to secure the first place in Group C.

After hammering Greece 3-0, los Cafeteros experienced some problems in the second match against Ivory Coast, but showed enough quality and character to continue the winning run.

With the first place in the group already in the bag, Jose Pekerman is set to ring changes to the starting line-up, but I believe there is still value in backing Colombia at 2.40 (7/5).

Carlos Bacca and Mario Yepes are definitely out as they struggle through injury, while playmaker James Rodriguez is unlikely to be risked after missing some training last week.

Colombia icon Faryd Mondragon could be given a chance to become the oldest ever player to take part in a World Cup game as he is expected to deputize for David Ospina.

The likes of Fredy Guarin, Jackson Martinez, Santiago Arias and Juan Quintero are all tipped to start against Japan.

Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Mondragon – Arias, Balanta, Zapata, Armero – Guarin, Mejia – Carbonero, Quintero, Ibarbo – Martinez.

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