With the 2022 FIFA World Cup kicking off in 13 days, it’s time to explore one of Group E’s darkest horses – the Samurai Blue of Japan.
Every day until November 20th, we’ll explore a different team represented in this year’s tournament, from Group A to Group H, including predictions about where they’ll end up.
Yesterday, we looked at Germany, one of Group E’s toughest teams. We’ll now look at the Japanese squad, who could surprise everyone just like they did in 2018.
Nickname: Samurai Blue
Colors: Blue, white, red, black
Coach: Hajime Moriyasu (Japan)
Japan is a great team without a lot of name recognition. When the Japanese beat the USMNT 2-0 in September, Daichi Kamada of Eintracht Frankfurt and Kaoru Mitoma of Brighton were the goal scorers. Japan also has former Liverpool and current Monaco star Takumi Minamino, who has 17 goals for the Samurai Blue. Also, keep an eye out for Arsenal’s Takehiro Tomiyasu and Celtic’s Daizen Maeda. Japan is in a shark-infested group, but most of their players are in top European leagues. They could shock the world again in 2022.
Qatar will mark the seventh World Cup appearance for Japan, who’s reached the round of 16 three times, including in 2018 when they took a heavily-favored Belgium side down to the wire. Japan is slicing through nearly everyone recently with an 8-3-2 record in 2022. That includes wins over the USMNT, Ghana, AND South Korea, not to mention a close 1-0 loss to #1 in the world Brazil.
Tournament Prediction: Group stage exit.
We heavily believe Japan can rattle the brackets by tying Germany and Spain while defeating Costa Rica. We believe that they CAN – however, we think Germany and Spain will still come out on top in the group. Japan opens against Germany, where we think they’ll pick up between 0-1 points. Japan will probably outclass Costa Rica for a full 3 points and pick up between 0-1 again against Spain. Unfortunately, if Japan follows this script, it probably won’t be enough to make it to the knockout stages for their second tournament in a row. That being said… We would not be surprised at all to see Japan make a run to the round of 16 or deeper this year. They are a sleeping giant that everyone is overlooking, one of the most complete teams in the tournament.
Featured Image: Generated Image: DALL-E 2/JapaneseFootballAssociation/DM