Colombia vs. Japan Preview

Having been made to wait and watch the other nations begin their 2018 World Cup journey, Group H finally gets underway tomorrow as Colombia take on Japan. 

These sides have history. Colombia and Japan were drawn in the same group at the previous World Cup in Brazil. In 2014, Colombia convincingly beat Japan 4-1 and went on to progress until the quarter-finals. 

Image: BetStudy.com

TEAM SELECTION

There has been such an exhilarating start to this World Cup, from numerous penalties being awarded, the so called 'lesser teams' defying the odds to the inclusion of VAR for the very first time in this tournament.

Colombia will be looking to make a bright and positive start to their campaign, as their attacking talents may prove to be too much for the Japanese to handle. Only Mexico and England's performance in parts have displayed high-intensity pressing and counter-attacking football. It will be no surprise to see Colombia deploy similar tactics tomorrow.

Perhaps a slight concern for the favourites to finish the group in pole position is the reported muscle injury suffered by James Rodriguez. The attacking midfielder lit up the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, winning the Golden Boot. Hopefully he will pass fit for the game as Colombia are certainly a better side with him in the team. The other absentee for this match, and the rest of the tournament, is the left-back Frank Fabra who recently suffered a knee injury.

The rest of the team, as outlined in Colombia's preview, may line up as follows:
:
Goal
David Ospina

Defence
Davinson Sanchez
Santiago Arias 
 Johan Mojica
Yerry Mina 

Midfield
James Rodriguez
Juan Cuadrado
Jefferson Lerma 
 Jose Izquierdo 

Forward
Radamel Falcao
Luis Fernando Muriel


Though the bookies may not be giving Japan too much of a chance, they will be looking to impress in their opening game. In their warm-up game against Paraguay, they won 4-2 thanks to goals from Eibar's Takashi Inui and former Red Devil, now Borussia Dortmund player, Shingi Kagawa. Against Colombia, there are likely to start with the following players:

Goal
Masaaki Higashiguchi

Defence
Wataru Endo
Naomichi Ueda
Gen Shoji
Gotoku Sakai

Midfield
Gaku Shibasaki
Keisuke Honda
Hotaru Yamaguchi
Shingi Kagawa
Takashi Inui

Forward
Shingi Okazaki


PREDICTION

The strength in-depth of Colombia's side will surely be on display tomorrow and so a 3-0 win is a realistic prospect though Japan could do what so many 'underdog' teams have done so far in this World Cup and provide an upset.

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