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Japan vs. Greece: Tactical Preview of World Cup Group C Match

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Sam TigheWorld Football Tactics Lead WriterJune 19, 2014

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot.

Group C featured two winners and two losers in the opening round of fixtures, and here we preview the two sides who are currently playing catch-up.

 

Japan

Much more was expected of Japan in their opening game, but after taking the lead against Ivory Coast through Keisuke Honda's smashing effort, they all but fell apart.

Possible Japan XI.
Possible Japan XI.@stighefootball

Defensively, they struggle with pace and strength, with Maya Yoshida hardly the signal-caller in the back line you hope and dream for. Sure, the Elephants are a seismic test in the air, but the problems they created were borne from clever runs into channels, not solely man versus man mismatches.

The Samurai Blue need to work on creating more clear-cut chances from better vantage points, and they need to do it fast.

If Honda isn't scoring, goals are still a problem, with qualifying star Shinji Okazaki completely anonymous in the first game out on the right side.

 

Greece

Greece underwhelmed on a level we never thought possible: They were actually poor at defending.

Possible Greece XI.
Possible Greece XI.@stighefootball

The Piratiko have fashioned a steely reputation since winning Euro 2004 by defending for their lives, and during World Cup qualifying, they conceded just four goals.

But conceding three in the opener against Colombia was disappointing and even worse was that their resistance lasted all of five minutes. Disorganised and disheveled at the back are not phrases you attach to Greece readily in 2014.

Credit: BBC

It leaves us wondering exactly what this team's strengths are, as their spectacular defence was their only real trump card. In attack they looked slow, timid and ponderous, frequently passing sideways or backward instead of risking a through ball.

 

2 Tactical Clashes

1. Channels

"We watched them [Japan] play against Ivory Coast," Greece manager Fernando Santos told reporters, per FourFourTwo.com.

"We selected interesting information and we will inform our players. We have already watched Japan in the past and we know their disadvantages."

Credit: Univision

Aside from the obvious set-piece weakness Japan have carried for years, they have a nasty habit of allowing runs into their penalty area and letting strikers run the channels.

If Kostas Mitroglou is fit for the game, and Santos may well gamble on him, he could have an absolute field day with his pace and instincts.

 

2. Width

Do Japan have the width to get around Greece's low block?

Colombia opened the game out from the first minute by utilising a Juan Cuadrado/Camilo Zuniga overlap, hitting the byline, causing chaos in the penalty area and reaping the rewards.

Credit: Univision

Japan have to try and do something relatively similar; if they hit Greece head-on with three narrow attacking midfielders, they'll fall spectacularly short in their assignment.

If they don't get around the Piratiko, they'll be relying on a Honda long shot...again.

 

Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.

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