2014 WORLD CUP SOCCER
Kickoff: Thursday, 6:00 p.m. EDT
Estadio Das Dunas – Natal, Brazil
Japan -105, Greece +270, Tie +270
Over/Under: 2.5 Goals (Over +105, Under -135)
Japan and Greece meet Thursday evening with both teams needing a victory in order to give themselves a chance of advancing to the knockout round.
Japan was right there in their opening game of group play, but they were unable to hold onto a lead and now find themselves in a must-win situation against Greece on Thursday.
Despite being outplayed for most of the game, Japan had a chance to beat Ivory Coast in their tournament-opening match. Ivory Coast won the battle in time of possession by 14% and shots on goal by six shots. Japan, however, was the team to strike first in the game. At the 16-minute mark, Keisuke Honda found the back of the net to give Japan the 1-0 lead. For another 48 minutes of play, Japan was able to keep Ivory Coast from scoring but then Ivory Coast scored at both the 64-minute mark and then the 66-minute mark. Japan was unable to get themselves any other quality chances to tie it up and will now need at least a point to stay in contention, but a victory over Greece would certainly mean a lot more heading into their third match.
Greece was actually involved in a much different game than the one Japan played. Unlike their next opponents, Greece did a good job of keeping possession and generating chances, but their inability to finish had them being blown out in the end.
Greece was in control of the tempo for a majority of the game, but they did not find the back of the net and that was what doomed them. Greece won the battle in time of possession with 54% compared to Colombia’s 46% in the opening game. They also had seven shots on goal which was just one less than Colombia’s eight. The problem was that Colombia was able to connect on three of their eight shots and Greece couldn’t convert at all. Pablo Armero scored the game’s first goal at the five-minute mark, and that would prove to be the game-winner despite Greece’s solid effort. If they can put away some of their chances, they should have an excellent opportunity to come away with an upset win over Japan.