Know Your Rivals: World Cup 2010 - Japan

Goal.com assesses the chances of Takeshi Okada's side, who approach the tournament in wretched form...
Welcome to Goal.com - Know Your Rivals for World Cup 2010!

In this special series we bring you the local knowledge of the world's leading football tournament. With our worldwide team of experts, each one based in the country in question - from Brazil to North Korea - you'll hear first-hand the latest team news, exclusive interviews, and fan opinions of your World Cup opponents.


In this edition of Know Your Rivals, Goal.com's Takashi Sugiyama assesses Japan's chances of progression at the World Cup in South Africa.

Strengths
Japan have showed their strength as a team. They are a well organised side and can be expert at frustrating stronger opposition.

Weaknesses
The team still has problems scoring. Much of their goal threat is limited to set plays as they struggle to create chances from open play. In particular, the side finds it difficult to play offensively during the second-half of games.

Positives
Japan have recently switched to playing with a 4-1-4-1 system. The central defenders, Yuji Nakazawa and Marcus Tulio Tanaka, and the anchor Yuki Abe play very carefully and do not allow opponents to play freely.

Negatives
They have shown a strong aversion to playing well during the second-half of games. Also, Shunsuke Nakamura, the country's talisman in the past, is not good shape. He looks unlikely to play as a starter.

Prognosis
While they will rarely be beaten by many goals, Japan have found it very hard to score enough goals to win games. Cameroon have not looked impressive in the warm-up to the tournament, but it really depends whether Japan have the resolve to go to the next step.

How will Group E go? Check out Castrol Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup Group Predictor.

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