The first match of the three-way tournament Kirin Cup will see Japan host Peru in what should be a very interesting game. The hosts will use this game to prepare for the start of the World Cup 2014 qualifiers, whereas the visiting coach will test some home-based players before the start of Copa America tournament.
Japan constantly improving
Even though Japan recorded four straight defeats in the build up to the World Cup in South Africa, the Samurai impressed at the final tournament and were very close to reaching the quarter-finals. Experienced coach Alberto Zaccheroni took over from Takeshi Okada and he led Japan to the Asian Cup title, with his side impressing in the matches against sides like Qatar, Korea Republic and Australia. The Samurai have played no friendly games since the success in Qatar, so this will be a great opportunity for them to continue the excellent run of results. With players like Honda, Nagatomo, Uchida, Hasebe and Okazaki proving their worth at the biggest stage, Japan now only have a very talented squad with fair amount of experience, which looks to be a perfect recipe for success. Alberto Zaccheroni is expected to field a very strong side, making Japan the favourites to win the game.
Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa is not included as he was given time to recover from a foot injury, while Arsenal youngster Ryo Miyachi has been overlooked.
Peru on the downtrend
After finishing the World Cup qualifying campaign at rock bottom, Peru managed to show some improvement in friendly games, although victories over sides like Canada, Jamaica and Panama are not such an achievement after all. The Peruvians did manage to share spoils with Columbia and Ecuador, and they are now looking to continue the good run and keep the spirits high before the start of Copa America. Coach Sergio Markarian will use the Kirin Cup to test some home-based players, with only three players plying their trade outside Peru being Jeferson Farfan, Santiago Acasiete and Luis Ramirez. The Schalke forward returns to the squad following a ten-month absence, but star players like Vargas, Guerrero and Pizarro will not take part in the Kirin Cup.
Coach Sergio Markarian is expected to field a weakened line-up with several youngsters getting their chance to shine.
Japan are high on confidence after winning the Asian Cup and with almost all star players available, Alberto Zaccheroni will be able to field a very strong side. Peru have experienced a lot of problems of late and seeing they will be without several key players, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to stop Japan from winning this game.
Our prediction: Japan with -1 Asian handicap
Odds: 1.82 (41/50)