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World Cup 2014
 

Japan 0 Greece 0: Highlights, key battles and what this result means

Published on Jun 20, 2014 8:52 AM
 

Both sides remain alive in the tournament, but Japan will be berating themselves more after managing just a goalless draw against Greece for their second group stage match.

The Samurai Blue were the favoured side to take three points here, and despite a one-man advantage over the 2004 Euro champions for almost an hour, failed to capitalise on it and mustered few dangerous attacks.

Greece captain Konstantinos Katsouranis was sent off in the first half after a silly challenge earned him a second caution, but will be thankful that his team-mates salvaged a point after his needless tackle.

Highlights

There aren't there many, to be frank. Or rather, there weren't many impressionable ones.

There was hope that the match might come to life after the sending off of Katsouranis, who mis-timed a slide into Japan captain Makoto Hasebe. But despite enjoying an overwhelming amount of possession, their toothless attack meant it all counted for nothing in the end.

Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa was left out of the starting line-up. While his introduction later in the second half helped Japan apply more pressure up front, it was too often met with stiffer resistance in the form of the Greek defence.

Greece, on the other hand, looked the better side after going one man down, creating more and better chances than Japan. Vasileios Torosidis responded well immediately after Katsouranis' sending off, forcing a mid-air save from Eiji Kawashima before nodding another chance wide. Theofanis Gekas and Georgios Samaras also had their chances in the second half.

Full-back Atsuto Uchida was constant threat down the right flank in the last 20 minutes, sending many crosses into the danger zone.
He helped Japan come nearest to finding a breakthrough when Yoshito Okubo met a low cross at the far post, only to somehow send it over.
Uchida himself sent a ball wide a few minutes later when Greece defenders were caught sleeping, but the right-back failed to come up with a good finish.

Key Battles

Sokratis Papastathopoulos/Manolas v Japan attack
The centre back pairing proved they were the Greece side's best assets, keeping their defence organised and steady in the face of Japan attack. Largely muted Yuya Osako in the first half, marking him well and preventing crosses from arriving at the forward's feet.

Uchida v Jose Cholevas
The Greek left back failed to contain the Japanese attacking full-back, allowing him to make several runs into plenty of space.

Man of the Match

Konstantinos Manolas

Given the dreadful nature of this match, this is a hard pick. But we'll go with Konstantinos Manolas. He was solid throughout match and made several crucial interceptions to deny the Japan attack, contributing to Greece's first clean sheet at the World Cup finals.


What this result means
The biggest implication from this match involves neither of the sides. Colombia is assured a place in the round of 16 from this draw, while Japan, Greece and Ivory Coast will fight for the remaining spot in the knockout rounds. Greece, however, should be happier with this point than Japan. The Asians are up against Colombia next.

 

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