Group H 2018 World Cup Betting Preview: Japan v Senegal.

Group H 2018 World Cup Betting Preview: Japan v Senegal

Written by Jordan Walters on Friday,June 22, 2018 11:48, EDT

Here’s something that few soccer fans or bettors expected after the first round of games in Group H: Japan and Senegal atop the standings. Both have a chance to advance to the knockout round with a win Sunday and depending on what happens later that day in Poland-Colombia. The Senegalese are slight betting favorites at MyBookie Sportsbook.

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Japan v Senegal Group H 2018 World Cup Betting Preview

  • When: Sunday, 11 AM ET
  • Where: Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg, Russia
  • TV / Live Stream: Fox / Fox Sports Go
  • 2018 World Cup Betting Odds: Senegal +124 / Japan +230 / Draw +215 (total 2)

Why Bet on Japan?

  • Confederation: AFC
  • Head coach: Akira Nishino
  • Captain: Makoto Hasebe
  • FIFA Ranking: 61
  • World Cup Appearances: 6

Japan are through if they win and Poland-Colombia is a draw later Sunday. The Japanese won their opener in an upset, 2-1 over Colombia – which was surprising without injured star James Rodriguez at the start of the game, so that certainly helped Japan’s cause. In addition, Colombia got an early red card and was down to 10 men. It was Japan’s first-ever World Cup win on European soil. Shinji Kagawa scored the first goal just six minutes in on a penalty kick.

Tied in the second half, Japan was the dominant side after the break, and after David Ospina had twice been forced into good saves, Yuya Osako rose to head in the winning goal (73) to spark emotional scenes both on the bench and in the stands of the Mordovia Stadium. It was so emotional because it was played against a somber backdrop following the strong earthquake in Osaka that has killed at least three people and injured more than 200.

Osako was handed a start after Shinji Okazaki was unable to fully shake off a calf problem, and despite missing an excellent chance in the first-half, he was involved in both of Japan’s goals, including his match-winning header. The striker is joining Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen from Cologne this summer. Keisuke Honda became the first player from an Asian nation to provide an assist in three different World Cup tournaments since 1966.

In his first competitive game in charge, coach Akira Nishino was thrilled with the win: “We finished the first match with the best possible result, which I think now hands us a good advantage.” That victory was achieved with “hard work”, “experience” and, perhaps most importantly, “endurance in defense”.

Nishino adopted a 4-2-3-1 formation which mimicked their South American opponents and surprised many. It was also a shock to see Gen Shoji start in the center of the defense. Winning his 13th cap for the national team, and making his World Cup debut, having picked up an injury in their final warm-up friendly with Paraguay, Shoji was in peak form. “Even after conceding Colombia’s equalizer, we didn’t panic.”

It took an Asian team 18 matches to record a World Cup win over a South American team with Japan’s win. Asia’s record against opponents from CONMEBOL included 14 losses and 3 draws before this. The first meeting between the two confederations came in 1966 when North Korea held Chile 1-1.

Projected Line-Up

  • 1-E. Kawashima
  • 22-M. Yoshida
  • 5-Y. Nagatomo
  • 19-H. Sakai
  • 3-G. Shōji
  • 17-M. Hasebe
  • 14-T. Inui
  • 10-S. Kagawa
  • 8-G. Haraguchi
  • 7-G. Shibasaki
  • 15-Y. Ōsako

Why Bet on Senegal?

  • Confederation: CAF
  • Head coach: Aliou Cissé
  • Captain: Sadio Mané
  • FIFA Ranking: 27
  • World Cup Appearances: 2

Senegal upset Poland 2-1 in Round 1, becoming the first African team to win a match at this World Cup and Senegal’s first WC win since 2002. Thiago Cionek’s own goal (37) handed Senegal the lead before their advantage was doubled through M’Baye Niang (60), who capitalized on a poor backpass from Grzegorz Krychowiak to score his first international goal after running on from the sideline having received treatment.

Niang was the man of the match as a constant threat to Poland’s backline. He sparked numerous Senegal attacks and capped off an impressive performance with what would prove to be the winning goal. Superstar Sadio Mane started on the wing for Senegal with Mame Biram Diouf and Niang leading the attack.

Senegal is the 2018 World Cup Betting favorite against Japan.

“Senegal won due to discipline,” said coach Aliou Cisse, who captained the side which famously beat defending champions France in their first ever World Cup match in 2002. “You saw a Senegal team very solid, very compact. We were able to put them under pressure. Every time they made a mistake we were able to find the action we needed and get back at them. We managed really well to get them out of their comfort zone in the first half.”

Unlike some of the other African teams at this tournament, Senegal played to their strengths. They were energetic, full of running, determined, and battled throughout. Senegal wasn’t clinical enough during the first half, in which they had five shots, but none on target. Similarly, despite their athletic and physical prowess, their set pieces – an important element at this World Cup – were ineffective offensively.

Senegal has won 50 percent of their World Cup matches (3/6) all time, the best win rate of any African nation in the competition. All three of Senegal’s World Cup wins have been against European nations (France, Sweden, and Poland).

Amsatou Fall, executive director of Senegal’s professional league had this to say about Sunday’s match: “The match against Japan will be very different from the one against Poland. Japan is a very skillful team, who have good collective control.”

Projected Line-Up

  • 16-K. N’Diaye
  • 3-K. Koulibaly
  • 6-S. Sané
  • 12-Y. Sabaly
  • 22-M. Wagué
  • 13-A. N’Diaye
  • 5-I. Gueye
  • 9-M. Diouf
  • 19-M. Niang
  • 10-S. Mané
  • 18-I. Sarr

Expert Score Prediction

Senegal 1 – Japan 1

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