Team effort needed for Japan to stop James, says Nishino
Japan coach Akira Nishino believes it will take a team effort to stop Colombia playmaker James Rodriguez in their World Cup Group H opener on Tuesday.
James won the Golden Boot as Colombia reached the quarter-finals four years ago, scoring six goals to help them to the last eight, where they were beaten by hosts Brazil.
He matched that total in qualifying and also contributed four assists as Colombia booked a place at the finals in Russia by finishing fourth in the CONMEBOL group.
Japan are looking to significantly improve on a 2014 tournament in which they claimed just one point and a positive result against Colombia in Saransk will go a long way to helping them do that in an open group that also contains Poland and Senegal.
And Nishino identified stopping James, on loan at Bayern Munich from Real Madrid, as key to helping Japan start the competition on a high.
"James Rodriquez is almost like a symbol of the Colombian team, he's a point getter and a mood maker. It's difficult to mark him, it's going to be the whole of the team who will have to check him," Nishino said at a media conference.
"We cannot give him time or room. Colombia will play their own style and we do not want to let them do that.
"If we can compete against them 10 against 10 there is the possibility that we might man mark him [James], but I don't think it will work that way.
"He is everywhere on the pitch, therefore according to his position the team as a whole will have to mark him."