Japan's defence has been excellent so far, but they'll need to attack Denmark to ensure they reach the last 16.
Last Updated: 24/06/10 3:12pm
Japan are currently sitting pretty in second in Group E, just ahead of next opponents Denmark on goal difference.
A draw against the Danes would be enough to finish second and secure a second-round spot against the likely Group F winners Paraguay.
Turn away Japanese fans, because I'm now going to kill your World Cup hopes with the immortal Bakerism: "nothing can go wrong now!" The Samurai Blues will secure at least a point, I'm confident of that and have become a firm believer of Takeshi Okada's neutralising tactics. I say believer there, not admirer!
The Japanese defence of Yuji Nakazawa, Yuto Nagatomo, Marcus Tulio Tanaka and Yuichi Komano have been ferociously stubborn in keeping the likes of Samuel E'to and Robin Van Persie quiet and ineffectual.
Nicklas Bendtner and the evergreen Dennis Rommedahl and Jon Dahl Tomasson will spearhead Denmark's attack, but if the Japanese hold as firm as in previous games, the odds of these great Danes scoring will be as long as a Hamlet soliloquy.
Having said that, Japan's own attack is about as sharp as a John Terry press conference is well thought through, and this area of the team does need to start firing to take the pressure off the defence. I'm still amazed that Okada hasn't found a place for Shunsuke Nakamura in his starting XI. Coming on for Daisuke Matsui for the last 30 minutes against Holland, the former Celtic man looked every bit the playmaking genius remembered fondly by one half of Glasgow.
Nakamura's introduction gave the Japanese the impetus to chase the equalizer, which they came very close to when another sub Shinji Okazaki shot over from close range with a few minutes left.
As I said in previous postings, Okada has at his disposal some tremendously creative, attacking players and in this final game of the group, he can afford to let some of them off the leash a little.
Heaven knows the back four are sufficiently capable and organised enough to stop the goals flying in the other end.
Makoto Hasebe, the Japan captain, is warning that his team are simply getting better and better and that his teammates are feeling good. Having been many people's, including my, favourites to finish bottom of Group E, I think the Japanese players should be feeling confident given that they are the lowest world ranked team in this group, yet they go into the last round of matches looking good to go through.
"Attack is the best form of defence", Hasebe has said - though don't get excited that this could be the game of the tournament. If Japan are to go through, and I believe they will, it will be by continuing with what they've done well this far. They know how to form two banks of four and make it very difficult to score against them. Now they just need to find the net themselves.
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