Japan National Team World Cup Betting
It’s going to be tough for Japan to make it out of a group that includes Spain and Germany. The Samurai Blue have been drawn into the proverbial Group of Death with those two juggernauts, and they will have to pick up a result against at least one of those two teams in order to advance to the Round of 16. They will likely need to beat the second playoff winner by a sizeable margin too in order to get past two former World Cup champions.
Manager: Hajime Moriyasu
Nickname: Samurai Blue
Confederation: AFC (Asia)
FIFA Ranking: 23 (March 2022)
Japan World Cup Betting Odds
To Win Group E: +1100
To Win 2022 World Cup: +32000
*Odds as of May 4, 2022
Japan Group Stage Schedule
Germany vs. Japan, Wednesday, November 23, 2022, 8 a.m. ET, at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan (FS1)
Japan vs. IC Playoff 2, Sunday, November 27, 2022, 5 a.m. ET, at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan (FS1)
Japan vs. Spain, Thursday, December 1, 2022, 2 p.m. ET, at Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan (FOX)
History at the World Cup
Appearances: 7 (first in 1998)
Best Result: Round of 16 (2002, 2010, 2018)
Japan did not qualify for the World Cup until 1998. The Japanese didn’t win their first World Cup qualifying game until 1974, but soccer has become more and more popular in the country over the last several decades, so the level of play has increased. Interestingly, they have made the last six World Cups now, alternating Group Stage exits with Round of 16 exits.
The Samurai Blue were the second-worst team at the 1998 World Cup, losing all three of their matches by one goal. Masashi Nakayama scored the lone goal for Japan in a 2-1 loss to Jamaica, and that led to some fears that Japan would underwhelm in 2002 as the co-host with South Korea. However, they ended up being the best team that was eliminated in the Round of 16.
We saw Japan pick up its first result with a 2-2 draw against Belgium, and the Japanese bested Russia 1-0 in their next match. They ended up winning the group ahead of Belgium with a 2-0 victory over Tunisia to reach the knockout rounds. Japan was favored to beat Turkey at this stage, but Turkey ended up being the surprising team of the tournament and won 1-0 to eventually finish in third place.
Japan crashed out of the 2006 and 2014 World Cups without a win, but the Samurai Blue made it to the elimination rounds in 2010 and 2018. Paraguay bested Japan in penalties in 2010, yet that wasn’t the most heartbreaking loss that the Japanese suffered in the Round of 16. It looked like Japan would upset Belgium in 2018 as the Japanese took a 2-0 lead on their opponents shortly after halftime. However, Belgium roared back with three goals in the final 25 minutes to stun Japan.
What to Watch
There are two mainstays with over 100 caps in the back line. Yuto Nagatomo and Maya Yoshida have over 25 years of combined experience for Japan, and they will be leaned upon heavily considering how inexperienced the rest of the back line is for the Samurai Blue. Hiroka Sakai is the only other defender with more than 30 caps, but Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu could take a big step forward in Qatar.
Japan has three main playmakers in the midfield. Liverpool’s Takumi Minamino wears the No. 10 for the national team, and he has 17 goals in 39 appearances for Japan. Genki Haraguchi and Junya Ito have a considerable amount of experience, while Gaku Shibaski is more focused on supporting the defense.
Shinji Kagawa has retired from the national team, and Shinji Okazaki hasn’t scored a goal for Japan since 2017, so it will be up to Yuya Osako to lead the attack. Osako has 25 goals in 57 matches, and none of the other forwards that have suited up recently have more than six goals for Japan.
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