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Japan vs Poland
2018 FIFA World Cup
Poland secured their first win of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and in the process, nearly eliminated Japan from the tournament.
Colombia’s victory over Senegal however, and Japan’s minimal yellow cards secures the Asian nation’s place in the round of 16. They are the only team from the Asian confederation to qualify for the knockout stages this time round.
Japan made life difficult for themselves after conceding in the second half as Jan Bednarek put Poland ahead after volleying home truly close to goal.
Despite chasing the game for a few minutes, Japan began to play like a team protecting a lead as they placed all their faith in Colombia holding on to defeat Senegal in the other match over 500 miles away.
The last ten minutes in particular saw Japan merely pass the ball amongst themselves in their own half as they tried desperately to avoid conceding another goal that would have eliminated them from the tournament.
Interestingly enough, Poland decided not to press Japan and simply let the Asian nation play conservatively en route to fulltime.
In the end, Japan’s faith in Colombia paid off and they are now through to the knockout stages where they will face either England or Belgium in the next round. Congratulations to Japan.
A draw will be enough for Japan to secure qualification to the knockout stages of the FIFA World Cup when they face the already eliminated Poland. Join The Roar for live scores and coverage of the match from 12am (AEST).
Japan are within touching distance of reaching the knockout phase of the FIFA World Cup for the third time in their history. A draw against Poland will guarantee the Samurai Blue qualification from the group stage, while depending on other results, even defeat at the Volgograd Arena could grant the Japanese a spot in the round of 16.
Poland are already going home from the tournament, but Adam Nawalka’s side will not want to leave Russia with zero points on the board.
The Polish will do everything they can to make life difficult for Japan, as Robert Lewandowski, the leading marksman in European qualification, attempts to score his first goal at Russia 2018.
The Japanese just need a draw with Poland to qualify for the round of 16, but there is no doubt the Samurai Blue will play at full throttle and try to get three points, avoiding any risks. A loss to go with a win for Colombia over Senegal as well as a flip in goal difference could still mean they miss out.
The coach Akira Nishino will probably start the same line-up as in the previous two matches. The scorer of the key goal against Senegal, Keisuke Honda, is still viewed as the trump card and will most likely come off the bench.
If Poland fail to win against Japan, it will be their worst ever performance at a World Cup. In 2002 and 2006, the team had also spurned their chances of qualification for the knockout rounds after two matches, but in both cases managed to win their final group-stage game. A few changes are expected in the starting line-up, including potentially Lukasz Fabianski instead of Wojciech Szczesny in goal.
Japan have confirmed themselves as Asia’s best team at this World Cup and deserve to go through based on their great performances so far against Colombia and Senegal. Poland’s limitations are clear and Japan should do enough to get the draw they need to qualify safely
Japan and Poland to draw 1-1.