World Cup 2018, Columbia vs Japan: 5 talking points
Juan Quintero 39th Minute (COL); Shinji Kagawa 4th Minute (JAP) and Yuya Osako 73rd Minute (JAP)
As the first round fixtures of Group H commenced, one couldn’t help but feel that this was the evenest Group at the World Cup. For all the talk about favourites and like, this Group seems to be the most balanced one as no team can be declared a firm favourite. Saransk was the venue for the Group H opener and as the sun shone brightly on the pitch, the players also shone and dazzled in the afternoon sunlight.
That said, both sets of players were running high on adrenaline and that was evident right from the kick-off exacerbated by the false start after the referee failed to realize that Falcao, the Colombian captain having won the toss wanted to switch ends.
Once the game got underway though it was the Colombians who set the tone in that remarkable opening period. Here is a look at some of the talking points from the game:-
#1 The Samurai Blues blaze through Colombia
Having sacked their manager Vahid Halilhodzic in April this year, the Samurai Blues did have their own set of problems. Instead, they proceeded to turn their attention of revenge against the Colombians. Back in 2014, it was a humbling experience for Japan as they were beaten comprehensively 3-1.
Perceptions about the Japan football team being nicknamed as the Samurai Blues are well founded. Afterall, for a team playing football, why would you associate a nickname that is related to fencing? But for all its reasoning, it is a catchy moniker anyways and in the opening stages of the game, the Japanese slashed and sashayed their way past the Colombians.
Osako who has been slated as the player to watch out for didn’t do his reputation any harm with the goal. His ability to drop deep and connect with his players meant that he was a constant menace to the opposition as he kept on pulling the Colombian defence out of shape.
On Tuesday afternoon, though it was the Japanese who put themselves on the verge of replicating the score-line brought them so much heartache four years ago. Kagawa dispatched the penalty early on before Yuya Osako opened his account with a flicked header into the top right corner.
Creation of clear chances was a rarity despite the man advantage and if Japan is to entertain hopes of going far and beyond in the tournament then they will have to summon some creativity.