Japan is set to face Chile in their opening game of Group C at Estádio do Morumbi in the Copa America.
The Asian side was invited as one of the Asia Cup finalists to the tournament, along with 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar. Japan is making their second appearance at the tournament, having participated in the 1999 edition.
However, the Blue Samurai will be looking to put on a much better showing than the previous instance. In the 1999 edition, they did not win a single game, losing to Peru and Paraguay while sharing the spoils with Bolivia.Embed from Getty Images
Hajime Moriyasu’s side has their task cut out this time as well, with 15-time champions Uruguay and reigning double champions Chile in their group.
Their opponents for this game, Chile are coming towards the end of a golden era. La Roja won back-to-back Copa Americas in 2015 and 2016, beating Lionel Messi’s Argentina both times. They followed this up by reaching the finals of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, their first-ever appearance at the final of a FIFA-sanctioned tournament.Embed from Getty Images
However, things went downhill from there as they failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Now, most of the squad are in their final stages of respective international careers and would want to win the coveted trophy for the third time.
Coming to team news, both managers have fully-fit squads to choose from. Both sides will be looking to play their best elevens to give themselves a better chance of progressing to the knockouts.
Head-To-Head and Japan vs Chile Prediction
In terms of head-to-head, it is the Asian side who lead their South American counterparts. Both teams have met just twice in their history, with Japan winning one and drawing the other. Chile is yet to score against the Blue Samurai, and they will look to rectify that stat in the first game between the two sides since 2009.
Looking at each team’s form, the contrast could not be more apparent. While Japan has won 17 of their last 21 games, Reinaldo Rueda’s side has picked up just six wins in their previous 18 matches.
Further, Moriyasu’s side is robust at the back, keeping a clean sheet in each of their last four games. On the other hand, La Roja has conceded in each of their previous five games and the continental visitors, who have scored in 18 of their last 21 games, will look to take advantage of a leaky defense.
Thus, the conditions and tournament history favor the South Americans while the form favors Japan. This could turn out to be a close contest with Chile winning the match if they manage to find their hunger to win the Copa America thrice.
Japan Predicted XI: Kawashima; Tomiyasu, Itakura, Nakayama; Abe, Miyoshi, Shibasaki, Nakajima; Kubo, Okazaki, Maeda
Chile Predicted XI: Cortes; Isla, Medel, Maripan, Beausejour; Pavez, Aranguiz; Hernandez, Vidal, Vargas; Sanchez