Colombia will be looking for the replay of the group stage clash from four years ago in Brazil when they trashed Japan 4-1.
Head coach Akira Nishino led Samurai Blue in only three outings before the World Cup kick-off against Colombia.
Japan conceded two or more goals in each of these three friendlies under Nishino.
There is a high chance Los Cafeteros could get off to an impressive victorious start here.
Colombia emerge as the strongest of four outfits in the only group without a real favourite. They will open the affairs against arguably the weakest opposition in the group on Tuesday and anything but a victory would kill the momentum ahead of what should be tougher checks against the likes of Poland and Senegal later on.
Los Cafeteros will face hard times matching their historical quarter-final progression back from Brazil 2014 when they were popped up as a genuine refreshment with the beautiful build-up play and creativity all over the place. James Rodriguez was the man who entirely stole the show back then as he ended up to be the competition’s top scorer.
Stellar showings in Brazil secured James the move of his life as he joined European giants Real Madrid just after the World Cup. Nonetheless, he never got the real chance to reveal his full potential there which is why Madrid sent him on loan to Bayern Munich where the Colombian star had a decent campaign this season netting seven goals and providing 11 assists in 23 appearances for the Bavarians in Bundesliga.
James will have the chance to enjoy the partnership with Radamel Falcao who skipped the tournament in Brazil due to injury. The Colombian talisman found his resurgence at Monaco where he notched an impressive 18-goal tally in 26 Ligue 1 affairs.
Japan arrived to Russia after a rather turbulent period which saw them make the managerial change just two months before the World Cup. Even though they topped their respective qualifying group ahead of Saudi Arabia and Australia, Japan decided to part ways with the Bosnian manager Vahid Halilhodzic after a series of defeats in friendlies even though the opposition included Brazil, Belgium and Ukraine.
Colombia Team News
Only 10 of 23 players who reached the quarter-final for years ago in Brazil will be present in Russia.
Nevertheless, this Colombian side is by no means weaker on paper.
Jose Pekerman does not have significant injury woes ahead of the tie with Japan.
James Rodriguez will have the success of the entire team on his shoulders and his partnership with Radamel Falcao will be crucial to Colombia’s progress in Russia.
Davinson Sanchez and Yerry Mina make a very interesting young defensive duo in the heart of Colombia’s defense.
Colombia Predicted Starting Eleven (4-2-3-1)
Ospina – Davinson Sanchez, Mina, Arias, Fabra – Carlos Sanchez, Aguilar – Cuadrado, Rodriguez, Cardona – Falcao.
Japan Team News
The former technical director Akira Nishino took charge over Vahid Halilhodzic only in March this year.
He led the Japanese team in only three matches which saw Samurai Blue lose two and win one, conceding at least two goals in each.
Team’s main stars are veterans Shinji Kagawa, Shinji Okazaki and Keisuke Honda who were all dropped for November friendlies against Brazil and Belgium (under Halilhodzic).
Nishino brought them back to the squad hoping they will be able to build-up the dazzling partnership they had back at their primes.
Takashi Inui might have secured hiss place in the starting line-up after bagging a brace in the recent 4-2 victory over Paraguay.
Japan Predicted Starting Eleven (4-2-3-1)
Kawashima – Yoshida, Makino, Sakai, Nagatomo – Hasebe, Oshima – Okazaki, Kagawa, Inui – Honda.
Colombia vs Japan Head-to-head
Colombia were much more successful in the short history of head to head contests with Japan.
Los Cafeteros won two and drew one of three meetings with samurai Blue.
The first match was played back in the summer of 2003 at the Confederations Cup when the South Americans clinched a narrow 0-1 victory.
Team drew 0-0 four years later at Kirin Cup (a competition of a friendly character).
Finally, these two sides locked horns at the biggest stage four years ago in Brazil when Colombia took a demolishing 4-1 victory in the group phase.
Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez and Jackson Martinez scored goals for Los Cafeteros back then.
Colombia vs Japan Predictions
It’s really hard to judge the Japanese outfit knowing this will only be their third match under Akira Nishino. What we are all aware of is that the team clearly lacks stability at the back after the mentioned managerial change as Samurai Blue conceded two goals in each of three friendlies under Nishino. It’s a poor record given the opposition included the likes of Ghana, Switzerland and Paraguay, none of which are known to be prolific in the final third.
This lack of meticulousness in the Japanese back line should be the music to the ears of Jose Pekerman who has a strong firepower on display in his ranks. The likes of James Rodriguez, Juan Cuadrado and Radamel Falcao are well capable of exploiting the mentioned holes in Japan’s defense, meaning we’ll go for the Colombians to net two or more goals on the day as the main betting option, set at 1.90 odds.
The clash with Japan is a perfect opportunity for Pekerman’s outfit to raise the spirits ahead of matches against Poland and Senegal, particularly after back-to-back goalless draws to Australia and Egypt in recent friendlies. You should not be tricked by such results as Los Cafeteros revealed their full attacking potential when they bagged three goals past France in March this year.
Predicted Full-Time Result is a confident victory for Colombia who are expected to dominate the pitch from the very first whistle at Mordovia Arena.