Japan vs. Greece: Date, Time, Live Stream, TV Info and 2014 World Cup Preview

Gianni VerschuerenFeatured ColumnistJune 19, 2014

Japanese players leave the pitch after the group C World Cup soccer match between Ivory Coast and Japan at the Arena Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil, Saturday, June 14, 2014.  Ivory Coast won 2-1.  (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)
Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

Japan and Greece will both be fighting to keep their 2014 World Cup bids alive on Thursday, each team in dire need of three points to keep up with the leaders in Group C.

Both teams disappointed during their opening match, but with two fixtures still to be played, a quick turnaround could still see the winners of this match qualify for the next round.

A draw won't help either team, and both teams will have to change their attacking approach drastically going into this match.


Date: Thursday 19 June

Time: 11 p.m. BST/6 p.m. ET

Venue: Estadio das Dunas, Natal

TV Info and Live Stream: The match will be broadcast on ESPN and BBC One, with mobile coverage available via WatchESPN and the BBC iPlayer.


No Plan B

Martin Meissner/Associated Press

The Greek national team has long been lauded as one of the world's best defensive units, with its greatest performances coming during its run at the 2004 European Championships.

The 3-0 loss against Colombia was eye-opening for some, but in reality, it was inevitable. Otto Rehhagel is no longer coaching the team, and this squad simply isn't as talented as the one that was responsible for one of the greatest Cinderella stories in the history of European football.

The current Greek team has no extra gear, no link between midfield and attack, and too little pace on the counter. There's no plan B, and when Colombia scored after just five minutes, plan A went out the window.

Per The Associated Press' Jim Vertuno (via Yahoo Sports), Andreas Samaris said his team was not just focused on defending:

That wasn't what people expected. I know what everyone expected of Greece though: that we would have 11 men behind the ball, defend, defend, defend and give everything to keep a clean sheet. We went out to win against Colombia, and that philosophy will not change. We just hope it brings a better result for us because Japan is now a must, must-win game for us.

Greece may have set out to win against Colombia (as does every team that plays the game), but at no point did it look like it was even possible. Colombia's quick wingers pressured the Greek back line with relative ease, and their full-backs were allowed to move forward almost untouched.

The Greek defence is static, and that's OK—if the midfielders can pick up the quicker wingers before they are ready to challenge the defenders one-on-one. That didn't happen against Colombia, and really, it didn't happen during preparation for the tournament, either.



Shuji Kajiyama/Associated Press

Here's the problem—Japan's style of play is quite similar to Colombia's. While the Samurai Blue lack the kind of lethal finishers the Colombians field, the Japanese team can score goals in bunches when it's in the groove.

Against Ivory Coast, it wasn't—in fact, it may have played its worst 90 minutes since Alberto Zaccheroni took over as manager. The Italian won't allow his team to put in another flat performance like that, and changes to the starting XI are expected.

Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo seem relatively safe, but Yoichiro Kakitani could receive his first start of the 2014 World Cup at the striker position. The talented forward is a more mobile option than some of his teammates, and against Greece's slower defenders, he could be deadly.

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - JUNE 14:  Giorgos Samaras of Greece falls to the ground during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Colombia and Greece at Estadio Mineirao on June 14, 2014 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty
Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Japan are the clear favourites in this match, and they know they'll most likely need all six points from their remaining two matches in order to have any chance of advancing to the knockout stages.

Beating Colombia will be no easy task, but before the Samurai Blue start thinking about that, they'll have to overcome the Greeks.

Greece will also need six points from their remaining two fixtures, and with the counter-attack clearly not working, the team can't rely on set pieces alone to see it through. A change of style is needed, and without the personnel to facilitate such a change, Greece's chances of progressing are evaporating quickly.