Japan is FIFA’s highest ranked team from Asia, but they are the lowest ranked team in their group and a long shot to make it to the playoffs.
Japan is in Group E with Netherlands, Cameroon, and Denmark.
has Japan at +25000 to win the World Cup and at +1000 to win Group E.
Japan will have a tough time getting out of their group, as they do not match up well with any of the teams. It is very unlikely they will beat Netherlands, but they do have a shot to beat Cameroon and Denmark albeit a small one.
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Japan has made three World Cup appearances and they have been the last three tournaments. Their best showing was in 2002 when they advanced to the quarterfinals as the host nation.
The Japanese did not have the toughest time qualifying for South Africa, but did not do it in impressive fashion, as they could not beat Australia in two matches and they played to a draw in three home matches.
Japan lacks many world-class players, but they play good team soccer and they are a hard working bunch. Just like the last few World Cups their strength is their midfield, as they are a very accurate passing squad. Shunsuke Nakamura of Espanyol and Shinji Okazaki and Shimizu S-Pulse have to provide the Japanese with some offense this summer.
Japan does not have the best offense to say the least and they do not have one go-to striker. They also tend to have big problems when they play physical teams, as they are not the biggest team in the field. In the last few years they have struggled against teams from Africa, so you know there were not happy to see Cameroon in their group since FIFA has Cameroon as the strongest team from the African continent.
Takeshi Okada is the head coach and he will have to come up with a miracle in order for Japan to make another quarterfinals run like they did eight years ago.
Japan will be the underdog in every Group E match they play, but their big ones are against Cameroon and Demark, as those are matches they have a chance in. Their first match against Cameroon is important, as if they lose that match making it out of the group will be a major uphill battle.
Japan World Cup Schedule
6/14/2010 Japan vs. Cameroon
6/19/2010 Netherlands vs. Japan
6/24/2010 Denmark vs. Japan