Group play at the London Olympics is finally complete, and one of the four quarterfinal matchups features Japan and Egypt in what promises to be a tightly-contested game.
Japan began the tournament with a huge morale-boosting win over Euro 2012 champion Spain. The team made it back-to-back wins with a 1-0 victory over Morocco, before a scoreless tie against Honduras sent the squad into the quarterfinals as the winners of Group D.
The Egyptians, who were victorious in only one of their three group games, will be the weakest team to play in a quarterfinal matchup. Brazil took Group C easily with nine points, while Egypt claimed the second-highest point total over Belarus and New Zealand with four. If the team hadn't beaten Belarus in the final round of the group stages, it would have been a different story.
Where: Old Trafford, Greater Manchester, England
When: Saturday, August 4, 7:00 a.m. ET
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
TV Information: MSNBC, 7 a.m.-8:45 a.m. ET
Japan Keys to Victory
It’s never easy to beat the best national team in the world, but somehow, Japan managed to shock Spain early in London.
The problem throughout all three group games for Japan was scoring. The team has only found the back of the net twice thus far, once through Yuki Otsu against Spain and again through Kensuke Nagai against Morocco.
In order to advance to the semifinals, Japan is going to have to stop the high-scoring Egyptians. The team's defense is going to have to step up, while the offense is going to have to score at least twice to win.
Egypt Keys to Victory
Egypt didn’t emerge with a shocking win like Japan, but this team did play very well against Brazil in an eventual 3-2 defeat.
The Egyptians know how to play under pressure, which will really help them in this quarterfinal matchup. Losing your opening game puts you at a huge disadvantage going forward, but this squad was able to tie with New Zealand and beat Belarus in a must-win game.
Japan is very strong defensively and it won’t be easy to score. If Egypt can’t handle the pressure put on by Japan, and can’t advance the ball, this team will not progress.
Final Prediction: 2-0 Japan
Egypt just barely made it into the quarterfinals. Therefore, I expect this team's London Olympic run will come to an end after playing Japan.
Japan is just too sound defensively for Egypt to crack. The Group D winners have yet to allow a goal and I don’t see how Egypt is going to be able to score. The Egyptians have scored six goals in three games, but besides Neto, haven’t faced the best of goalkeepers either.
Shunsuke Ando will play well for Japan, which will earn his team a spot in the semifinals against the winner of Mexico and Senegal. If Ando can keep up his outstanding goalkeeping performances, we could be seeing Japan go all the way.