Japan vs Croatia. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

Сoaches of the teams

Japan will meet with Croatia in the FIFA World Cup 2022 last-16 match at the Al Janoub Stadium. The fixture will take place on Monday, December 5, beginning at 20:30 IST.

The football feast is inexorably drawing to its conclusion as the play-offs roll on, with some teams heading home and others nearing the final. The Croatian national team was already in the final four years ago, losing the decisive match to the French. There is no doubt that Zlatko Dalic’s side aim to repeat that achievement at the very least, and, who knows, maybe they can even win the World Cup. The Japanese team are standing in the way. This team have never managed to get past the first stage of the play-offs in their history and are keen to finally do so. Why not? The Asians have already repeatedly surprised the public and brought their fans to ecstasy. 

Such inputs give us reason to look forward to a vibrant and exciting affair. Parimatchnews will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

Japan News & Current Form: 

The Japanese team scored six points and topped Group E. This is the fourth time in history that the Japanese have qualified for the play-offs (2002, 2010, 2018, 2022). The Spanish team scored 4 points and also managed to qualify for the ⅛ finals. Third place in the group went to Germany, who lost to Spain due to their worst goal difference, with Costa Rica finishing fourth.

In the group stage of the World Cup Japan surprised the whole football world. Japan showed a disciplined and reliable performance in their own half of the pitch, having built a defense in the echelon. Hajime Moriyasu was also effective in adapting to their opponents and playing well on the counterattack, relying on the tactical performance of their attacking leaders.

The Japanese team is ranked 24th in the FIFA rankings. It is the second strongest team from Asia, as they demonstrated in qualifying. Team coached by Hajime Moriyasu has lost just twice in 18 games, drawn once and won 15 games, and responded to six conceded goals by scoring 58.

“The Blue Samurai” has a harmonious and balanced squad, with experienced players who have played in top-flight competition in the Old World – Takefusa Kubo, Ritsu Doan, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Daichi Kamada – as well as attacking leaders Yuya Osako and Takumi Minamino.

The Japanese were initially regarded as the underdog, but they beat Germany 2-1 and Spain 2-1. The winning scenario was the same: conceding a goal in the first half, substitutions and two second-half goals. In the match against Germany, it took longer to turn the score around, with the Spaniards scoring in the opening stages of the second half. The only defeat was a 0-1 loss to Costa Rica.

The match against Spain was, shall we say, rather bizarre. Having won the first half, Spain quickly conceded two rather ridiculous goals at the start of the second half and were not very keen on equalizing the score. Thanks to the loss to Costa Rica and a draw against Germany, Spain got to second place, with an easier play-off schedule – Morocco instead of Croatia, followed by Portugal or Switzerland instead of Brazil, who would surely beat South Korea. Because the Spaniards were not motivated to play hard to win, it is hard to judge the strength of the Japanese team in this game – and the only conclusion that can be drawn from the two games before is that the Japanese play hard when they are given little space in attack.

Ritsu Doan was an important player for the team. He made two substitute appearances and took part in the victories over Spain and Germany. The forward scored two goals.

Statistics portal Opta reported that Japan’s players had possession of the ball 17.7% of the time in the game against Spain, an anti-record for a team that won a World Cup match. 

Japan’s second goal against Spain raised many questions. Kaoru Mitoma, Japan’s midfielder, made the winning pass, knocking the ball almost over the line. At first, referee Victor Gomez decided that the ball had crossed the line, but after a tip-off from VAR and a personal review of the episode, he changed his mind. The goal against Spain was approved.

Thanks to the goal, the Japanese could beat Spain and qualified for the play-offs of the 2022 World Cup with a total of 6 points. Germany did not make the play-offs because of the Japanese victory. In their meeting the Germans beat Costa Rica 4-2 but failed to progress to the next round due to the goal difference.

The fans reacted negatively to this scoring of the Japanese team:

“The second goal should have been canceled as the ball definitely crossed the line. There is evidence for that. It was definitely a set-up.”

“If only the VAR had worked properly! Then the results at this World Cup would have been different.”

Coach Hajime Moriyasu also surprised everyone with a 3-4-3 formation in the last game, while Japan had played in a 4-2-3-1 formation in previous matches, showing great tactical flexibility and willingness to offer a different game depending on the current opponent. 

Player of Borussia Mönchengladbachs, Ko Itakura, who picked up his second yellow card in this tournament against Spain, will not play against Croatia.

Croatia News & Current Form: 

The Croatian team, after their successful performance at the 2018 World Cup, approached the current World Cup as the “dark horse”, but in fact it turned out to be the Japanese. In qualifying, they were solid on attack, but in the 2022/2023 Nations League, they were solid on defense.

Zlatko Dalic brought to Qatar an aged but star-studded squad. Its strengths are its chemistry and mutual understanding on the pitch. The center-back line is led by the experienced Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović and Luka Modrić, while the attacking tempo depends on Ivan Perišić and Andrej Kramarić. Both players have already delighted the fans with their performance.

Ivan revived his Tottenham Hotspur career and provided two assists at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. This makes him the record scorer for the national team in terms of assists at major tournaments. 

Hoffenheim forward Andrej Kramaric scored a double for Canada and moved up to seventh place on Croatia’s all-time goalscoring list.

Dejan Lovren is in the starting line-up and plays an important role in the Croatian defense. The Zenit player could be one of the finalists of this Mundial. He plays the full 90 minutes on the pitch.

The Checkered outclass the Japanese in terms of talent and experience, but after the Blue Samurai’s victories against the Germans and Spaniards, analysts are in no hurry to identify Croatia as the unconditional favorites for the encounter. 

At the tournament in Qatar, Croatia proved that their greatest strength is their central midfield. The trio of Modric-Kovacic-Brozovic help control the tempo of the match and the ball.

The 2018 World Cup vice-champions started in Qatar with a boring draw against Morocco and then crushed Canada 4-1, although they conceded first in that match. It seemed that the Checkered would then quietly beat the Belgians, whose performance in the first two rounds left a very mediocre impression, and go out of the group in first place – but in fact Belgium dominated the entire second half, only by a miracle not scoring a single goal. Romelu Lukaku had four great opportunities but missed them all. The Belgian victory, by the way, left the Croats without a play-off, while a draw put them in the 1/8 final from second place. A few hours later, the Croats found out that they were lucky when the next group was won not by Spain but by Japan.

Experienced defender Domagoj Vida recovered from injury. The player was included in the squad for the game with Belgium, but did not appear on the pitch. There are no suspended or injured players.

Japan form guide: W-D-L-W-L-W

Croatia form guide: W-W-L-D-W-D

Japan vs Croatia: Head-To-Head Record:

  • June 8, 1997: Japan 4-3 Croatia (Kirin Japan Cup);
  • June 20, 1998: Japan 0-1 Croatia (FIFA World Cup);
  • June 18, 2006: Japan 0-0 Croatia (FIFA World Cup).

The two previous games between these teams were in the group stage of the World Cup. In 1998, Croatia won 1-0 to advance from the group stage (the Japanese lost all three games), while in 2006, they drew 0-0. In the end, both teams failed to qualify for the play-offs – the Croats had to beat the Australians in the last round, but the match ended in a draw, 2-2, and the team under Hiddink finished second.

The Croatian-Japanese encounter this time may be more productive, but there is little chance of winning during official time. The Croats are used to overtime at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia – all their victories on the way to the final came in penalty shoot-outs or extra time. Japan will not give up easily, so we will be looking forward to the outcome beyond 90 minutes.

Japan vs Croatia Predicted XI:

Japan’s possible starting lineup (3-4-3): Gonda, Tomiyasu, Taniguchi, Yoshida, Ito, Morita, Tanaka, Nagatomo, Doan, Maeda, Kamada.

Croatia’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Livakovic, Juranovic, Lovren, Gvardiol, Sosa, Kovacic, Brozovic, Modric, Kramaric, Livaja, Perisic.

Statistical preview of the match Japan vs Croatia:

  • Japan’s First XI average age is 28.6 yrs.
  • Croatia’s First XI average age is 29.5 yrs.
  • Japan have won 3 of their 10 matches at the World Cup.
  • Japan scored two goals in 5 of 7 World Cup matches.
  • Japan scored in 7 out of 10 World Cup matches.
  • Japan have conceded in 9 out of 10 matches and the last 8 at the World Cup.
  • Japan have conceded in every match at the World Cup in Qatar.
  • Japan have scored 3 or more goals in 7 matches at the World Cup.
  • Both teams have scored in 7 World Cup matches.
  • Croatia has lost 1 match out of 10 at the World Cup.
  • Croatia scores in 8 out of 10 matches at the World Cup.
  • Both teams scored in 6 out of 10 matches.
  • Croatia is undefeated in its last 8 official matches.
  • Croatia have conceded one goal in Qatar.
  • Croatia is ranked 12th in FIFA ranking.
  • Japan is ranked 24th in FIFA ranking.

What has been said before the match:

Hajime Moriyasu, Japanese coach, said:

“For Asia as a whole and Japan as well, our wins over Spain and Germany: two of the top sides in the world, will give us great confidence”.

“There are many things we can learn, but Asia can win on the World Stage – Japan can win on the World Stage. I think all of the people in Asia will share our happiness”.

“At half time, I told the players that things were going to plan and they had done well. We made two substitutions (Doan and Kaoru Mitoma) and looked to play on the break. We looked to attack more. We persevered and persisted in the first half, and in the second half, we are able to benefit from that effort”.

“The players don’t think of themselves as starting players or substitutes and neither do I”.

“Of course there is competition for places and we have to have some kind of hierarchy, but in general they’re all regular players.

“I don’t know if it’s quite the same but it’s like in baseball – among pitchers you have starters, relievers and closers”.

“The concept that we have as a team is to defend well and from there attack – that’s how we got here and that hasn’t changed during these three games at the World Cup”.

“Our opponents will be strong and we’ll have to see how much of the ball we get. We would like to have more of it but it depends on our opponents”.

Zlatko Dalic, Croatian coach, said:

“What I launched as a message to my players is never underestimate anyone, respect your opponent. They will apply the Samurai philosophy in their game. We will also do our part”.

“We know how important this match is for us. We know who the opponent is and their mentality. If we want to go further, we must apply that very same attitude. We do our best and never underestimate anyone. Show maximum respect for the opponent, and we will see who is the better team”.

“We will try. We have chances, we have opportunities, and this is a very difficult path we’re on. I’m always an optimist but this World Cup is a high-quality one”.

“In the past 20 years, Croatia has played some magnificent matches. In the last 10 matches in the World Cup we have lost only one, which is a great success. Two times in a row we’ve passed the group stage – this is a great thing”.

“And if you look at the countries in the round of 16, we are the smallest country with the smallest population. We are here against the odds. We will do that, that’s our dream”.

“But we will take it one step at a time. We need to exercise patience. For now, the most immediate thing is the match tomorrow and then we’ll see if it will take us further. I believe we can win. First of all, we were very lucky to have qualified for the World Cup – it was our motive, our ambition. And the next ambition is to go to the next stage”.

Josip Jyranović, Croatia right-back, said:

“When we see Luka Modrić sprinting on 89m minutes, giving his younger teammates more strength and motivation. We must follow his example. This team is an excellent combination of young and experienced players. I believe we have nothing to fear”.

“As kids, we all dreamed of representing our country in a big tournament. The World Cup is the biggest stage. Did I dream this? I did. Did I think it might happen? No. But, I’m here now, I’m healthy and ready to give all of myself to fulfill my dreams”.

Japan vs Croatia Prediction:

Japan are good at playing the second number. In the games against Germany and Spain, they had very little control of the ball but emerged victorious from both meetings. On the one hand, Japan have beaten two of the world’s football giants in a similar fashion: stout defence in the first half, high pressing and rapid counterattacks in the second. On the other hand, they lost a game that they had to lead because they were the favourites themselves. The Japanese will probably be able to catch Zlatko Dalic’s more dominant team on the counterattack, but it is unlikely that they will surprise the vice-champion with anything. The Draughtsmen are in any case stronger and more experienced than their opponents. 

Croatia will be prepared for well-examined scenarios, and their ability to adjust to their opponent’s strengths is excellent. The Balkans have conceded just one goal in the tournament and that was in the first-half debut of the game against Canada. In fact, it will be extremely difficult for the Japanese to score. In addition, both teams will not risk too much at first trying to catch the opponent on their mistake. 

Right now, the pair are roughly evenly matched in terms of strength and the chances of winning are almost equal for both sides – perfect conditions to exchange a lot of dangerous attacks trying to prevail. The encounter will be interesting and entertaining, but there’s a good chance that it could end in a draw in regulation time.

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: Full-time result – Draw.

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