Japan vs. England
The FIFA Women’s World Cup resumes with the final round of group games, this one from Group B sees England coming off a 2-1 win over New Zealand take on Japan at the SGL Arena in Augsburg, Germany who clinched qualification to the Quarterfinals with a 4-0 victory over Mexico.
England was forced to come from behind in order to win the match and didn’t looked all that convincing, especially in front of goal where they spurned multiple chances. Now they go into a match against Japan only needing a point and forcing Mexico to get the win, considering they were expecting to be qualified by this point the Three Lionesses they have to be a little disappointed and know there is still a chance they don’t go through. If Coach Hope Powell and her squad are to keep that from happening she will need her midfield to control the ball, the Japanese are at their best when in possession and are able to create space. Also they will need to use their speed and get the ball into the wide positions, the likes of Rachel Yankey, Jill Scott and star Kelly Smith have to be prominence figures This is where England needs Kelly Smith to take over the game, she doesn’t necessarily need to score goals but she needs to be more of an impact player.
As for Japan they showed their tactical precision and finishing ability against Mexico, completely over running the opposition with captain Homare Sawa netting a hat trick in the process. The most impressive aspect of the Japanese style is their ability to dominate possession and use it effectively; in their first two matches they had 61% and 56% respectively. Coach Norio Sasaki won’t want to make any drastic adjustments but having already qualified for the Quarterfinals they can use this match to work on any minor tweaks. In order to finish the group undefeated they will want to continue working the ball, showing patience and staying compact. The longer the match stays 0-0 the better it will be for Japan and the more frustrated England will become
Even though they have already qualified I like Japan in this match, England have struggled in large parts of their first two matches and have yet to turn their massive potential into something more. I’m taking Japan plus the 120 here.
Japan +120 England