Japan will be eyeing a place in the quarter-finals of the World Cup when they play 2018 finalists Croatia on Monday afternoon.
The Japanese topped Group E in remarkable fashion, completing sensational comebacks against both Germany in their first game and Spain in their last match, winning 2-1 in both to down both group favourites.
Despite losing to Costa Rica, Japan’s six points means they topped the group and play Group F runners-up Croatia at the Al Janoub Stadium on Monday. Their win over Spain also consequently meant Germany got knocked out of the World Cup.
Hajime Moriyasu’s team are looking to reach the last eight of the World Cup for what would be the first time in Japan’s footballing history.
Here’s everyting you need to know:
Group fixtures (all times GMT)
Monday 5 November - Japan vs Croatia, last 16 (Al Janoub Stadium, 3pm)
Goalkeepers: Eiji Kawashima (Strasbourg), Daniel Schmidt (Sint Truiden), Shuichi Gonda (Shimizu S-Pulse)
Defenders: Hiroki Sakai (Urawa Red Diamonds), Miki Yamane (Kawasaki Frontale), Ko Itakura (Borussia Monchengladbach), Takehiro Tomiyasu (Arsenal), Maya Yoshida (Schalke 04), Shogo Taniguchi (Kawasaki Frontale), Hiroki Ito (VfB Stuttgart), Yuto Nagatomo (FC Tokyo)
Midfielders: Junya Ito (Stade de Reims), Ritsu Doan (SC Freiburg), Wataru Endo (VfB Stuttgart), Hidemasa Morita (Sporting), Ao Tanaka (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt), Takefusa Kubo (Real Sociedad), Takumi Minamino (AS Monaco), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton & Hove Albion), Gaku Shibasaki (Leganes), Yuki Soma (Nagoya Grampus)
Forwards: Takuma Asano (Vfl Bochum), Daizen Maeda (Celtic), Ayase Ueda (Cercle Brugge), Shuto Machino (Shonan Bellmare)
Ones to watch
Star – Takumi Minamino: The versatile forward, who joined Monaco from Liverpool this summer, is perhaps Japan’s most high-profile active player, alongside Arsenal defender Takehiro Tomiyasu. Minamo, 27, has already struck 17 goals for his national team in 43 outings, and his compatriots back home will be counting on him to step up again here at his first World Cup.
Breakout talent – Daichi Kamada: The attacking midfielder has six goals from 21 international caps, and at club level this season he already looks set to surpass the number of goals and assists that he registered for Eintracht Frankfurt last term. As Kamada showed in Frankfurt’s triumphant Europa League run in 2021/22, the 26-year-old is a real threat going forward, and he will hope to demonstrate that in Qatar.
Odds to win the World Cup (taken from Betfair)
Having beaten Germany and Spain, who’s to say Croatia won’t be next on the list for Japan? A historic place in the quarter-finals awaits. Japan 2-1 Croatia
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies