Japan face Costa Rica on Sunday morning in meeting between two teams that enjoyed and endured differing fortunes in their World Cup openers.
Manager Hajime Moriyasu described Japan’s 2-1 win against Germany as “a historic moment, a historic victory”. Costa Rica’s contest with Spain will also warrant a spot in the history books – but for all the wrong reasons.
The 7-0 loss Luis Fernando Suarez’s side suffered was comfortably the country’s heaviest World Cup defeat. More damningly, it was the first time a nation had gone an entire match without a single shot – on target or otherwise – since Costa Rica, themselves were guilty of the same toothless display against Brazil in 1990 (per Opta).
Here’s everything you need to know about the upcoming clash between these contrasting nations.
Japan vs Costa Rica H2H Results (All Time)
Current Form (Last Five Games)
Japan team news
Japan ended the match with a wildly different system and personnel compared to the one that went in 1-0 down at half-time to Germany. Moriyasu finished the match with two wingers at wingback and a front-three behind just two central midfielders – one of which scored.
It’s unlikely that Japan will go all-out attack from the off against Costa Rica but Moriyasu may be tempted to stick with the back-three which handled the threat of Germany’s wide overloads after the interval.
Japan Starting 11 (3-4-3): Gonda; Itakura, Yoshida, Tomiyasu; Sakai, Endo, Tanaka, Nagatomo; J Ito, Asano, Kamada.
Bench: Kawashima Schmidt, H Ito, Taniguchi, Yamane, Morita, Shibasaki, Minamino, Maeda, Soma, Kubo, Doan, Machino, Ueda, Mitoma.
Costa Rica team news
Suarez is expected to have a full squad at his disposal. But how many of the starting XI that Spain sentenced to death by a thousand passes (1,045 to be precise) will retain their place remains to be seen.
Costa Rica Starting 11 (5-4-1): Navas; Fuller, Duarte, Waston, Calvo, Oviedo; Campbell, Tejeda, Aguilera, Zamora; Contreras.
Bench: Alvarado, Sequeira, Chacon, Vargas, Matarrita, Lopez, Salas, Wilson, Torres, Bennette, Borges, Ruiz, Hernandez, Venegas, Martinez.
Spain’s victory was so comprehensively demoralising, Costa Rica’s coach Suarez feared its wider repercussions. “Psychologically I’m really worried we won’t be able to recover from this,” he admitted.
Of the ten previous teams to have conceded at least seven goals in a World Cup match, eight lost their next game. Yet, while there is precedent for a miraculous turnaround, Japan should have more than enough to compound the woes of a fragile Costa Rica.
Prediction: Japan 2-0 Costa Rica
Harry Symeou hosts Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan and Jack Gallagher to look back on France ’98 as part of the ‘Our World Cup’ series. We take a trip down memory lane – join us!
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