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World Cup

  • June 19, 2014
  • • 23:00
  • • Arena das Dunas, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte
  • Referee: J. Aguilar
  • • Attendance: 39485
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Japan - Greece Preview: Group C's bottom two vow to attack in must-win clash

Following defeats to Cote d'Ivoire and Colombia respectively, head coaches Alberto Zaccheroni and Fernando Santos know nothing but victory will suffice on Thursday

Greece and Japan will meet this Thursday in Natal forced to get a victory to keep their hopes of reaching the round of 16 following defeats at their opening matches against Colombia and Cote d'Ivoire.

Known for their defensive strength, the Greeks actually played very attacking-minded in their opener. Of course, that could be attributed to the fact they were behind in the score since the 5th minute.

But Georgios Samaras assures the circumstances of the game had nothing to do with Greece's switch of style of Fernando Santos' men.

"I know what everyone expected of Greece, though: that we would have 11 men behind the ball, defend, defend, defend and give everything to keep a clean sheet. But I think what they saw was a team that likes to attack, that moves the ball really well, and that tries always to create chances," he said to FIFA.com. "We went out to win against Colombia, and that philosophy will not change."

Admittedly, playing a different style didn't work so well for the 2004 European champions, who finished on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline. "We just hope it brings a better result for us because Japan is now a must, must-win game for us,"  said the 29-year old forward.

Japan were doing better thanks to Keisuke Honda’s strike in the first half, but struggled to hold on against a very physical Cote d'Ivoire side. Once Didier Drogba entered the field, it took his team only a few minutes to turn around the score, with goals by Wilfried Bony and Gervinho - the latter with the help of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.

Coach Alberto Zaccheroni admitted after the loss that he could make radical changes to his squad for the match at Arena das Dunas, but Honda feels the Asian champions just need to focus on their strong areas.

"Possession, that is our strength," said Honda. "When we have the ball we just need to keep the ball and not give it away easily. When we do lose the ball we should press immediately. That is our philosophy. The last game we lost the ball too easily so that is how we spent a lot of energy in the first half; that is the point. That is why we must concentrate on keeping the ball."

Related

Field Report
Reader's Predictions
Top 3 Predictions
Players to Watch
Shinji Kagawa
Shinji Kagawa
Position: Midfielder
Squad Number: 10
Games Goals YC RC
3 0 0 0

His needs to complete his good dribbling with better decisions to create goal chances.

Dimitris Salpingidis
Dimitris Salpingidis
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
4 0 1 0
His mobility is a key component of Greece attack. He must perform at a much higher level than his display against Colombia
Prediction
Japan at least can say they were competitive in their opener, while Greece never was in position to claim points. Both are already long shots to make it to the round of 16, but the Asian seem to have stronger case to remain in the chase
Editor's Prediction
Japan 2
Greece 1

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