Manager

Vahid Halilhodzic. The 65-year-old Bosnian is vastly experienced and takes no prisoners.

His approach has divided Japanese fans and a number of experienced players such as Leicester's Shinji Okazaki, Shinji Kagawa and Keisuke Honda have all been left out of the squad as they don't fit the boss' philosophy.

He demands his squad play on the counter-attack, deploying a lone striker – which previously worked for him during successful spells in charge of Ivory Coast and Algeria.

 

Method Of Qualification

Japan finished top of Asian qualifying group B with 20 points from ten matches. They won six times and were only defeated twice throughout the campaign.

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One of those losses arrived at home to the UAE, a performance which evoked plenty of criticism and dissatisfaction from the Japanese media but they managed to bounce back with successive victories.

Playing on the counter comes with plenty of risks attached but they netted 17 times in total and conceded on just seven occasions.

 

Star Player Of Qualifying

Maya Yoshida was a key part of a defence which kept a number of clean sheets throughout the qualifying process.

He managed to get on the scoresheet with a strike against Thailand and can be a hugely distracting presence in the opposition's penalty area.

If Japan are to continue soaking up pressure throughout the World Cup, the Southampton defender will be key to keeping his side organised at the back.

 

Most Memorable World Cup Moment

Japan have twice progressed to the round of 16 at this tournament in both 2002 and 2010.

The latter saw them pick up two victories during the group stage including a memorable 3-1 success against Denmark where Keisuke Honda, Yasuhito Endo and Shinji Okazaki all got on the scoresheet.

They were drawn against Paraguay in the knockout round but despite remaining resolute throughout, they were undone in a penalty shoot-out with the South American outfit progressing to the quarter-finals at their expense.

 

Predicted Finish

Japan are 11/4 to finish in the top two of Group H and although their section looks to be one of the weakest, they may still struggle to progress to the knock-out round.

Despite providing a few scares along the way, they are likely to come up short.

 

Recommended Bet

Japan's opening game is against Colombia and it could be a lively affair. They aren't afraid to move forward in numbers and could provide a real threat to the opposition.

The 27/25 for Over 2.5 Goals is tempting whilst the 39/20 on offer for a victory against Senegal also looks to be a decent option.

 

*Odds subject to change - correct at time of writing*

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