The Colombia vs Japan (Japon) match will take place at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiabá on Tuesday, June 24 (1:00 PM Pacific). Colombia has already qualified for the round of 16, and they’ve almost ensured the first place, but Japan needs a victory in order to have chances of passing the group stage, depending on the result of Greece against Ivory Coast, that will be playing at the same moment in Fortaleza.
Colombia won the two matches they played, 3-0 against Greece (goals by Armero, Gutiérrez and James Rodríguez) and 2-1 against Ivory Coast (James Rodríguez and Quinteros). Since in the other match of the group Japan lost against Ivory Coast and drew against Greece, they qualified to the round of 16 because they have 6 points, 3 more than Ivory Coast and 5 more than Japan and Greece.
Moreover, their goal average is +4, and Ivory Coast – the only team that could reach them at the top of the group if they win and Colombia lose – has a zero goal average, so unless they lose and Ivory Coast win by the necessary goal difference to climb to the first position, they’ll finish at the first place and therefore will face the second-placed in Group D, which can be Costa Rica, Italy or Uruguay.
Sevilla striker Carlos Bacca, who got a thigh injury in a training session before Ivory Coast match, trained apart from the group, focusing in his recovery. He won’t be available for manager José Pékerman in the match against Japan (even if he were the boss wouldn’t risk him), but he hopes to be fit for the round of 16 match.
In addition, 38-year-old Atalanta defender Mario Yepes is in doubt after leaving Saturday’s training session due to a thigh injury. Moreover, the boss may rest some players taking into account that they’re already qualified for the round of 16 and that their goal average is very good so it’s difficult that they don’t finish at the first position.
On the other hand, Japan tied 0-0 against Greece, in a match that they played with one more man for more than fifty minutes since Greek skipper Kostas Katsouranis saw the red card at the 37th minute of the first half. They had the 68 percent of ball possession but that wasn’t enough to score a goal.
Since they have only one point (-1 goal average), the same as Greece (-3) and two points less than Ivory Coast (0 goal average), a victory against Colombia is a must if they want to play the round of 16 for the third time in their history (they reached that stage in 2002 and 2010).
Moreover, they need that Greece defeat Ivory Coast by one or two goals, or winning over Colombia by two or more goals and hope for a tie in the other group match – or any other possible result regarding difference in scored goals rather than goal average.
Italian boss Alberto Zaccheroni, who managed teams like Milan, Lazio, Inter and Juventus, spoke about the match against Greece: “We haven’t had enough speed in our play and it’s as though the players have been playing with the brakes on,. The problem is probably mental. The result of the first game seems to have affected the following game. That’s why now I have to work on that but I have full faith in our players and they have good capability to handle the situation.”
Zaccheroni also talked about the performance of his team in World Cup and the Colombia game: “We’re not satisfied with our performances so far,. This team has given lots of joy and satisfaction in previous matches over the past four years so I’m hoping we can show that good part of our football against Colombia.” [source]
Colombia vs Japan Prediction
In my opinion, Colombia are the favorites to win this match. They’re in a great moment, and have a better team than Japan, as the first two matches have demonstrated. Even if they play with an alternative team, I think that they’re superior than the Asians. In addition, there are lots of Colombian fans in Brazil, so I’m sure that they’ll have the support of almost all the people at the stadium. My prediction is a 2-0 victory for Colombia.
Colombia vs Japan Television
The Colombia vs Japan match will be televised on ESPN, Univision, and ESPN 3 (stream).