WWC 2015 Round of 16: Japan

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For the reigning world champions, reaching the Round of 16 was non-negotiable. Now the battle for Japan to retain the crown of World Cup champions begins and The Football Sack is here to tell you everything you need to know.

Group Performance
For Japan the group stage was an understated showing of clinical football. They didn’t drop a point, which can’t be argued with, but against three World Cup debutants they would have perhaps wanted to produce some more convincing wins. The Swiss had them on tenterhooks as they held on for a nervy 1-0 win, Cameroon took advantage of their second-half fade out to pull back to 2-1 after the Japanese dominated the first stanza and against the hapless Ecuador everyone expected a cricket score but again Japan could only get one into the back of the net. They weren’t bad showings but they weren’t as good as they could have been.

They’ll beat the Netherlands because…
They will beat the Netherlands through experience. Japan have played plenty of big football matches, and will look to take advantage of this over their Dutch debutant foes.

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It’s interesting to note that Japan have only come up against teams playing in their first World Cup thus far. A victory against the Netherlands is expected and then things should get much tougher.

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They’ll be knocked out by the Netherlands because…
Because if we’re honest, the Japanese have not looked at their best so far. A little tired and a little slow and prone to fadeouts is how one could some up their efforts so far. The Dutch will look to come at them and take advantage of this. Teams in Japan’s situation have it all to lose as so much is expected of them while for the Dutch it’s a chance to go out and make a huge statement to the rest of the world. If the Dutch lose this they’ll be hailed as valiant debutants.

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If Japan lose, heads will roll.

Can they win the World Cup?
Of course they can and four years ago they did but they’ll need to come out of their Canadian hibernation soon. It seems ludicrous to suggest this about a team that is yet to lose a game – particularly one as good as Japan – but if they want to win they have to get their fluidity back. If it comes they’ll be there at the pointy end of proceedings.
Best moment of the tournament so far
The opening 20 minutes against Cameroon had Japan playing at close to their best and they were two goals to the good just after 15 minutes. They had also peppered the Cameroonian ‘keeper and were generally applying good pressure but then it stopped. That period of play was what they are capable of and it’s been their best effort of the campaign thus far.
Key Player
Yūki Ōgimi is a formidable talent for the Japanese and is known for her lethal boot in front of goal. An experienced campaigner, she was there four years ago lifting the cup but has spent too long drifting back to the centre of the pitch to help out her misfiring midfield. If they can get the ball to her regularly she will be dangerous.
Injuries and suspensions
None and none.

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