Two losses and a draw from their last three matches, Japan’s World Cup preparations aren’t exactly going swimmingly, though they’ll be expecting to do better on home soil against a nation that will not be competing in Russia next month. Wednesday’s hosts lost against Ukraine last time out, but the score-line didn’t exactly tell the full story, so Akira Nishino’s team should be reasonably confident ahead of this warm-up game.
Ghana may not be gracing Russia with their presence this summer, but Wednesday’s visitors arrive in Yokohama in pleasing form. Avram Grant’s men are unbeaten in five, while they’ve lost just one of their last eleven matches.
As mentioned previously, Japan’s recent form has been poor, though their performances haven’t been too bad. Scoring in each of their last five matches, Nishino’s men are acquitting themselves well offensively. As we saw against both Mali and Ukraine in March, the Japanese, with clever players such as Shinji Kagawa and Kesuki Honda in their ranks, can create chances when in possession, while they’re not exactly lacking in end-product either.
However, from a defensive point of view, Wednesday’s hosts, who’ve failed to keep a clean sheet in each of their last four, have been a little bit too easy to breach. They didn’t come under a tremendous amount of pressure against Ukraine last time out, but when push came to shove, they offered little resistance. Much of the same can be said for their previous matches against Mali and South Korea.
Scoring against a Ghana side that also has issues at the back may prove to be somewhat simple but keeping things tight at the back is once again expected to be anything but for Japan.
In recent times, despite not being overly prolific, Ghana have experienced similar problems; they’re capable of scoring goals at one end, though they’re struggling to keep them out at the other. Both teams have scored in four of their last five, as well as in seven of their last ten. With just two clean sheets to their name in their last ten fixtures, Avram Grant’s men are likely to struggle against a Japan team that always seems to have a goal or a two in them, though they too will fancy themselves to make offensive headway.
From a defensive point of view, friendlies haven’t exactly treated either of the two sides well in recent times. Since 2016, Ghana have played four friendlies and have failed to keep a clean sheet in all four, while Japan, who’ve been busier in terms of non-competitive games, have conceded in all but one of their eight friendlies since 2016.
With both teams showing a lack of defensive solidity, ‘Both Teams to Score’ makes plenty of appeal at the prices and is thus the way for punters to go ahead of their meeting in Yokohama on Wednesday.
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Japan have won each of the last two renewals of this fixture, winning by three goals to one when the pair last met back in 2009, but Ghana did win before that, as they claimed victory in the first ever meeting between the two teams in 2006.
Japan manager Akira Nishino has assembled a reasonably strong squad ahead of the World Cup. Big players such as Shinji Kagawa, Keisuke Honda and Yuto Nagatomo should feature in this match, though a few less known players such as Takashi Usami and Takuma Asano could also feature.
Both Mubarak Wakaso and Afriyie Acquah have this week withdrawn from Ghana’s squad for this match and will thus not feature in Yokohama on Wednesday night, while Richmond Boakye is also reported to have dropped out. Aside from that, Ghana should be at full strength.