World Cup 2014: Caution not an option as Greece and Japan battle for survival
Wednesday 18 June 2014
After losing their Group C openers, Japan and Greece will be looking to rediscover the qualities which got them to Brazil as they attempt to keep their campaigns alive at the Dunas Arena tonight. Only three points will do if either side is to extend their stay in Brazil beyond the group stage.
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Japan’s attacking flair helped them become the first country to qualify for Brazil but they paid the price for uncharacteristic timidity after taking an early lead in their opening 2-1 loss to Ivory Coast in Recife.
Abandoning the fast, intricate inter-passing that gave them the lead through Keisuke Honda after 16 minutes, they sat back in defence and were ultimately bullied out of the contest by the powerful Ivorians.
“Possession, that is our strength,” striker Honda said this week. “When we have the ball we just need to keep the ball and not give it away easily. When we do lose the ball we should press immediately. That is our philosophy.”
Their Italian coach, Alberto Zaccheroni, is unlikely to make sweeping changes to his side, although Yoshito Okubo might have done enough as a substitute in Recife to get the nod over the disappointing Yuya Osako up front.
Attacking midfielder Shinji Kagawa of Manchester United has also taken some flak for his display against the Elephants but his place in the side is probably safe with Japan fans hoping he might be able to produce something special to unlock the Greek defence.
Former European champions Greece conceded just four goals in 10 qualifying matches for Brazil lost their first match of the tournament a 3-0 defeat to Colombia.
They came to the World Cup promising a more adventurous style and will not be abandoning it.
Striker Giorgios Samaras, formerly of Celtic, said: “Everyone expected we would have 11 men behind the ball, defend, defend, defend and give everything to keep a clean sheet. But I think what they saw was a team that likes to attack, that moves the ball really well, and that tries always to create chances. And that philosophy will not cha nge.”
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