Japan, with a victory, would be in the round of 16, while a Costa Rica defeat would mean its elimination.
After having suffered the biggest defeat in a World Cup, the team Luis Fernando Suárez’s team will look forward a radical change in its luck against the ‘blue samurais’, who arrive very optimistic at the match -at the Ahmad Bin stadium Ali of Al Rayyan – after delivering one of the tournament’s surprises on Wednesday, defeating four-time champions Germany.
Two goals in the second half of the game of two players who play in the Bundesliga, Ritsu Doan -who plays for Freiburg- and Takuma Asano -who plays for Bochum- turned around a match in which the ‘Mannschaft ‘ had gone ahead with a penalty of Ilkan Gündogan, one of the stars of English Manchester City.
Japan could get direct qualification this Sunday and it will be a difficult obstacle for the ‘ticos’, who have had to work hard in the psychological field to recover from the hard defeat of the last Wednesday game, in which Spain scored seven times in the goal defended by the three-time winner of the ‘Champions’ with Real Madrid.
‘La Sele’ must believe in the idea that Saudi Arabia, Iran and Japan have staged surprises in the tournament. And it’s possible to beat the ‘blue samurais’, who four years ago, in Russia, fell in the round of 16 and would mark a record if they get two consecutive victories at the start of a World Cup.
However, Costa Rica, who closed its group at the World Cup in Russia, have never beaten Japan in the four previous matches; none in a big event, with three wins for the Asians, the last one in Osaka, four years ago (3-0).
Hajime Moriyashu, coach has got the casualties of Sakai and Tomiyasu -who replaced the first one against Germany-, so the right side will be occupied by Yamane.
Take Kubo, playmaker Sociedad’s playmaker, who played in the first part of the game against Germany, and will be the starting ‘eleven’, considered that 0-7 of Costa Rica against Spain was an “accident”.
PROBABLE LINE UP:
Japan: Gonda; Yamane, Itakura, Yoshida, Nagatomo; Endo, Tanaka; Ito, Kamada, Kubo; and Asano.
Costa Rica: Keylor Navas; Waston, Calvo, Duarte, Bryan Oviedo; Yeltsin Tejeda, Celso Borges; Benette, Fuller; Joel Campbell and Contreras.
Árbitro: Michael Oliver (ING).
Estadio: Ahmad Bin Ali de Al Rayyan.
By Fernando Perez (Football Analyst, Spain)