Japan vs Uruguay: Preview and Prediction

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Japan looked good in the 2022 FIFA World Cup when they defeated Germany and Spain

Japan will take on Uruguay in the first match of the 2023 Kirin Challenge Cup at the Japan National Stadium in Tokyo on Friday.

Both teams will be returning to action after a three-month break. Japan will be a confident unit coming into this match, as they did well in the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The Samurai Blue beat European giants and former world champions, Germany and Spain.

On the other hand, Uruguay will be desperate for a complete revival of the squad. Though they parted ways with the long-serving manager Oscar Tabarez ahead of the World Cup, it did not bring the desired results as the team could not even get past the group stage.

Current Form

Japan was not very consistent in 2022, but they did manage to spring some surprises. Besides the wins over Germany and Spain in Qatar, Hajime Moriyasu’s team had also handed Ghana a 4-1 thrashing and defeated fellow Asian giants South Korea 3-0 – all in the span of one year.

Their last fixture was the round of 16 World Cup tie against Croatia, where they did well to restrict the opponents to a 1-1 stalemate before losing out on penalties. Japan’s last outing against a South American team was back in September, incidentally, in the 2022 edition of the same tournament. It was a 0-0 draw against Ecuador.

Uruguay might have won their last match, which was a 2-0 World Cup victory against Ghana, but their recent performances have not been up to the mark at all. They went out 0-2 against Portugal in Qatar and could only play out a goalless stalemate against South Korea.

Before the World Cup, La Celeste also suffered a shock 0-1 defeat against Iran and was held to a draw by the United States of America. Marcelo Broli, the U-20 manager, has been roped in as the interim head coach and he will look to bring changes in the team’s fortunes.

Head to Head Record

The head-to-head records are inclined in favour of Uruguay. These two teams have met eight teams previously, where La Celeste has won four games, with the Samurai Blue winning on only two occasions. The other two matches ended in draws.

The last meeting was in Brazil, back in the 2019 Copa America. That fixture ended in a 2-2 draw, where Koji Miyoshi scored a brace for Moriyasu’s team, while a Luis Suarez penalty and a Jose Maria Gimenez goal helped Uruguay snatch a point.

Team News

Veteran centre-back Sebastian Coates could be getting his 50th cap for Uruguay

Moriyasu was seen using the 3-4-3 formation in Qatar and we could see a continuation of the same here. The experienced Daniel Schmidt is expected to be under the sticks, though the backline could be a new one. 

With Maya Yoshida, Hiroki Sakai, and Yuto Nagatomo all left out of the squad, Ko Itakura and Hiroki Ito are likely to be defensive mainstays. Besides that, Koki Machida could make her national debut, after impressing for Royal Union SG in the Belgian league.

Like Machida, youngsters Yukinari Sugawara and Kashif Bangnagande have been doing well for their respective teams, AZ Alkmaar and Tokyo. They could play on the flanks. Kaoru Mitoma, who is ripping the Premier League apart with Brighton & Hove Albion, is likely to have the dual responsibility of creating and converting chances, alongside Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano.

On the other hand, it is expected that Broli will be trying to avoid unnecessary risks in his first Test as the senior team manager and go with the tried and tested 4-4-2 formation. The veteran trio of Diego Godin, Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani have all been left out.

Meanwhile, Darwin Nunez will be unavailable after getting a knock in his last match for Liverpool, whereas Tottenham Hotspur’s Rodrigo Bentancur is yet to recover from his injury. Experienced centre-back Sebastian Coates could get his 50th cap, whereas striker Jonathan Rodriguez could make his first appearance since 2021.

Predicted XIs

Japan (3-4-3): Daniel Schmidt; Ko Itakura, Hiroki Ito, Koki Machida; Yukinari Sugawara, Wataru Endo, Daichi Kamada, Kashif Bangnagande; Ritsu Doan, Takuma Asano, Kaoru Mitoma.

Uruguay (4-4-2): Sergio Rochet; Guillermo Varela, Sebastian Coates, Sebastian Caceres, Mathias Olivera; Facundo Pellistri, Lucas Torreira, Federico Valverde, Diego Rossi; Maxi Gomez, Jonathan Rodriguez.


Uruguay might have the upper hand on head-to-head records but Japan has been the much better team in recent months. With La Celeste being in a transitional phase with a new manager and loads of new players, the odds are in favor of Samurai Blue winning this match.