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1 vs 2
Played
June 22, 2013 8:00 PM BST
Estádio Governador Magalhães Pinto — Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais
Referee:‬ F. Brych‎
Attendance:‬ 52690‎
 

Japan-Mexico Preview: Samurai Blue look to put disappointing Italy defeat behind them

With little more than pride at stake after both teams were eliminated from the Confederations Cup on Wednesday, the Mineirao clash is a race to avoid finishing bottom of Group A

By Keegan Sinanan

Italy - Japan, Nagatomo Yuto and Claudio Marchisio
Getty
With their hopes of reaching the Confederations Cup semi-finals dashed, Japan and Mexicowill face each other at the Mineirao on Saturday playing for little more than to avoid the ignominy of finishing bottom of Group A.

Neither team have registered a single point in the tournament so far, but major line-up changes are not expected on either side as they both aim to conclude their fruitless campaigns on something of a high.

Japan, who were eliminated on Wednesday after a devastating 4-3 defeat against Italy, have only one significant change to make, with captain Makoto Hasebe suspended after picking up two yellow cards.

Hertha Berlin’s Hajime Hogosai is the most likely candidate to replace the skipper, who conceded a penalty against the Azzurri, though Kengo Nakamura or Hideto Takahashi could also see action in midfield.

Meanwhile, Jorge Torres Nilo is in line to be dropped by Jose Manuel de la Torre from the Mexico defence, after a terrible performance during their 2-0 loss against Brazil, which ended their chances in the tournament.

In that event, Carlos Salcido is likely to win his 116th cap for el Tri by reverting to a left-back role, with Angel Reyna expected to assume Salcido’s place in midfield.

  DID YOU KNOW?

  • After their first meeting in 1996, which ended in a 3-2 Japan victory, Mexico have won the last three matches between the two sides – including a 2-1 triumph in the 2005 Confederations Cup.

  • Javier Hernandez (pictured, right) has struck Mexico’s only goal of the tournament; a penalty against Brazil. El Tri are scoreless from open play.

  • Japan hit the woodwork three times against Italy on Wednesday, and ended up losing the match despite holding a 2-0 lead by the 34th minute.

  • Both teams have qualified for the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cup tournaments. Japan will also contest the 2014 edition, while Mexico are in Concacaf’s final phase of qualifying for the competition.


Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Head to Head
World - FIFA Confederations Cup ‎(FCC)‎ Jun 22, 2013 Japan 1 - Mexico 2
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Last Five Matches
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Available Squads
Players to Watch
Keisuke Honda
Keisuke Honda
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 4
Games Goals YC RC
3 1 0 0
The playmaker was the best of a highly impressive attacking unit for Japan against Italy, opening the scoring from the penalty spot, and his superb ball control at speed could see him cause similar danger against a suspect Mexico defence. With the 27-year-old rumored to be on his way out of CSKA Moscow this summer, another strong display will surely see him have no shortage of suitors.
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
3 3 0 0
El Tri are struggling badly for goals, and the Manchester United forward, with five of their last seven strikes, appears to be their only real option on that front. Chicharito has had nowhere near the service required to succeed so far in the tournament, but with defence expected to be less of a priority on Saturday, he may well find himself with the chance to add to his 33 international strikes.
Prediction
The pressure is off at the Mineirao for both sides, so expect to see a lot of goals as both coaches will probably set their teams up to give the fans a last hurrah before departing the tournament. However, Japan have shown themselves far more capable of putting the ball into the back of the net than Mexico, with four goals to one in Group A, and will likely triumph with the same swashbuckling style that caused Italy so many problems.
Editor's Prediction
Japan 4
Mexico 2
Results
Group A Matchday 3
Times In BST
 
Top Scorers
Player   Goals Penalties
Fernando Torres Fernando Torres
Striker
Chelsea
5 0
Fred Fred
Striker
Fluminense
5 0
Abel Hernández Abel Hernández
Striker
Palermo
4 1
Neymar Neymar
Striker
Barcelona
4 0
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez
Striker
Man Utd.
3 1