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How far can Japan go at the 2022 World Cup?

newsonjapan.com -- Nov 16
They were one of the first to name their squad, and Japan were also the first team to arrive in Qatar, ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

If there were prizes for punctuality and enthusiasm, the Samurai Blue would already have won them both. But this is a competition that rewards results on the pitch, typically requiring maximum effort and of course, a little bit of luck.

Quite a few eyebrows were raised, when head coach Hajime Moriyasu named his Japan squad for the 2022 World Cup, opting for players with “burning ambition” amongst his 26-man list. Instead of relying more on veteran experience, he decided to put more faith in youthful ambition, believing players with hunger for success will take the team further.

Tough challenge awaits in Group E

Now appearing at their seventh consecutive tournament since 1998, the Japanese national team is hungry for success, eager to reach further than ever before. This will of course be no easy feat, given the difficult challenge this team is going to face in Group E, up against some of the most difficult rivals in the opening stage of the 2022 World Cup. The squad coached by Moriyasu will face Germany, Costa Rica, and Spain.

Two from those three rivals are previous and recent winners of the World Cup, with Germany last claiming the title at the 2014 edition in Brazil, while Spain lifted the trophy at the edition hosted by South Africa in 2010. As for Costa Rica, they are one of the most unpredictable sides at the tournament, capable of beating any rival on their day or failing spectacularly in equal measure.

In order to qualify for the knockout phase of the competition, Japan must finish within the top two of Group E. They will embark upon this challenge at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, where they will face Germany on 23 November. Next up is Costa Rica at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, also in Al Rayyan on 27 November, for what appears to be the easiest game on paper.

The final group encounter is against Spain on 1 December, at the Khalifa International Stadium once again, by which time the fate of Japan’s continuation at the 2022 World Cup will be clear. They will either have defied all the odds to qualify for the knockout stage, or alternatively, be preparing their journey back home, having been eliminated from the tournament. Hopefully, the latter can be avoided.

Chances of progress beyond the initial phase

When there are 32 national teams competing, all of whom are packed with wonderfully talented players, making predictions ahead of the 2022 World Cup is exceedingly difficult. Nevertheless, that is the task which always befalls oddsmakers at the leading online bookmakers, as they attempt to forecast how teams are likely to perform at the flagship FIFA tournament.

Interestingly, the odds can vary significantly between different bookmakers, making it well worth comparing the options available. Along with finding the most competitive odds, the latest SBO guide explains how to identify safe betting sites, focusing on key elements including trusted payment methods and swiftness of payouts. This can provide great help beyond choosing not only which teams to back at the world cup, but also where to back them.

As for what the oddsmakers have indicated, Japan could find progress from the group stage beyond reach, based upon the pre-tournament forecasts. They have been handed longer odds against qualifying from Group E, compared to Spain and Germany as the obvious favourites. That being said, odds between 3.50 and 5.00 indicate some hesitance to rule out their chances completely, amidst some belief that Japan are capable of causing some surprises.

Given they start the tournament in such a difficult group, the chances of Japan actually winning the 2022 World Cup are very slim, which is reflected by the scale of their odds against that eventuality. They have been valued from 151.00 lowest to 301.00 highest, depending on which bookmaker you choose to peruse. This would indicate that in regards to Japanese hopes, just making the knockout phase would be a great achievement.

The power of potential

While the prospects of progress might look bleak, there are some who believe that Japan can turn potential into results, including journalists at Aljazeera. The most famous media organisation in the Middle East has a more positive outlook, looking at previous World Cup achievements as the benchmark for Japan, insisting that surprise results are “not impossible” for this highly capable team.

The quality of Japanese players continues to improve exponentially, with leading stars now featuring at some of the biggest clubs in Europe, raising not only their profile but also their potential to achieve great things. Although there are questions about overall team strength and tactical adeptness, individually speaking, Japan has enough players who can turn games individually, making them one of the most exciting sides to watch.

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