【KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019 Preview】SAMURAI BLUE to face Paraguay in Kashima ahead of the World Cup Qualifiers
26 August 2019
On Thursday 5 September, the SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) will play in the KIRIN CHALLENGE CUP 2019, where they will face the Paraguay National Team at Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki.
Copa America Quarterfinalist
After a little more than a year since the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, the road to the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qatar is about to start for the SAMURAI BLUE. The first fixture will be an away match against Myanmar on Tuesday 10 September. Looking back on the past tournaments, the first match of the qualifiers has always been a tough match, regardless of the opponent. In that sense, the match against Paraguay, which will take place five days ahead of the qualifiers, will provide Japan with a wonderful opportunity to check the team’s form and build on the team bond. In the most recent encounter, the two teams have faced each other at an international friendly match played on 12 June 2018, where INUI Takashi scored a brace to help Japan earn a 4-2 victory ahead of the World Cup.
Paraguay has advanced to the quarterfinals in this year’s CONMEBOL Copa America Brazil 2019, where they drew against powerhouses like Argentina and Brazil. Despite their 0-0 effort against Brazil, the team was eliminated at the quarterfinals in penalty kicks, as Brazil went onto win the tournament. Reflecting on their performance at the Copa America, coach Eduardo BERIZZO proudly mentioned, “we showcased a brave and dignified fight.” Although Paraguay has not qualified for the FIFA World Cup since the 2010 South Africa tournament, they must have gained great confidence ahead of the South American qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar tournament.
How to break through the solid defence will be the key
Paraguay is well known for their solid defence and their players will not get fazed even under pressure. Their defence is led by two strong centre halves, Gustavo GOMEZ and Fabian BALBUENA, while their goalkeeper Roberto FERNANDEZ was named as the man of the match in all four matches played at the Copa America. Through their solid defence, the team anticipates for their opportunities to launch their counterattacks. In the attacking end, Miguel ALMIRON and Derlis GONZALEZ awaits the ball, as they are capable of striking a goal from any opportunity.
As shown in their performance against Uruguay and Ecuador at the Copa America, Japan is capable of keeping high possession of the ball and moving the ball around against strong sides from South America. Japan’s key to success will be on how they break down the solid Paraguayan defence to create opportunities to take shots. As coach MORIYASU Hajime mentioned after their match against Ecuador, “we must be more critical in the final third,” this match against Paraguay will present the team with a great opportunity to strive for higher standards. Another focal point will be on their risk management. As Japanese defender UEDA Naomichi mentioned after their match against Uruguay, “we need to have the courage to maintain our defence line at a high level,” their ability to keep high pressure against strong sides while responding to the counterattacks and long feeds will be a key aspect in the defensive end.
SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) vs Paraguay National Team
Date: Thu. 5 September 2019 19:20
Venue: Kashima Soccer Stadium, Ibaraki
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