By Anis Bazza
Last Updated: 28th June 2018
Thursday 28th June 2018
Volgograd, Volgograd Stadium
Live on BBC Two
Japan vs Poland line-ups
Japan XI: Kawashima; H.Sakai, Yoshida, Makino, Nagatomo; G.Sakai, Shibasaki; Yamaguchi, Usami, Okazaki; Muto.
Poland XI: Fabianski; Jedrzejczyk, Glik, Bednarek, Bereszynski; Kurzawa, Goralski, Krychowiak, Zielinski, Grosicki; Lewandowski.
Japan vs Poland permutations – who needs what to qualify?
Contrary to pre-tournament forecasts, Japan and Senegal sit pretty at the top of the table with four points each. Colombia lag just behind with three points of their own whilst Poland linger at the bottom with none.
Senegal and Japan require only one point in their respective games against Poland and Colombia to qualify.
If Colombia win then Japan will need to lose by fewer goals than Senegal to progress. The South American side can still qualify with a draw if Japan lose because they have a superior goal difference.
One of Sweden, Switzerland, Belgium, England, Senegal, Japan or Colombia will be in the World Cup semi-finals. Those nations have three semi-finals between them in the last 50 years.
Japan vs Poland odds
Interestingly, Japan – commonly known as Samurai Blue – come into this fixture as slight favourites with their odds at 9/5. A draw stands at 19/10.
The Whites and Reds meanwhile have their odds priced up at 9/5.
Japan vs Poland team news
The Blue Samurai have recovered from months of disarray leading up to the World Cup to be on the verge of reaching the knock-out stages.
They sacked Bosnian coach Vahid Halilhodzic in April and replaced him with Japanese coach Akira Nishino who has a stronger rapport with the players.
Nishino could recall Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki, who has featured in both of their previous games as a substitute. However, veteran goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima has made costly errors in consecutive matches and may be dropped in favour of Kosuke Nakamura.
Poland defender Kamil Glik’s odds of starting are high after made his comeback from a shoulder injury as a substitute against Colombia.
Japan captain Makoto Hasebe said: “I don’t think we can enter the match looking for a draw and to get the results we want.”
“Although we earned four points in two matches, we haven’t accomplished anything yet. We must enter the match with the intention to earn three points.”
Japan vs Poland match stats
The Japan vs Poland odds stand in the Blue Samurai’s favour as the last two fixtures between these sides ended 5-0 and 2-0 – albeit all the way back in 1996 and 2002 respectively.
Poland were the first European side to bow out of the World Cup and have now crashed out of the group stages for the third consecutive time.
The only previous occasion that the Whites and Reds have failed to win a single game at a World Cup was on their debut in 1938.
However, Poland will draw encouragement from the fact Japan have failed to score in four of their last five World Cup games against European opposition (W1 D2 L2).
Nishino’s men have already scored four goals at this tournament though, double the amount they managed in 2014 and more than any other previous tournament except in 2002 when they hit five.
Japan’s odds of scoring in both halves was 14/5 but now stands at 4/1.
Japan vs Poland players to watch
Keisuke Honda’s goal against Senegal made him the first Japanese player to score at three different World Cups (2010, 2014, 2018).
Honda has been involved in seven of Japan’s last 10 World Cup goals (four goals and three assists). His odds of scoring at anytime are 2/1.