Japan vs Costa Rica Prediction
27th November 2022
13:00 Qatar Time/10:00 GMT
Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan
World Cup Head-to-Head Record
Japan vs Costa Rica Prediction Match Overview
There were mixed fortunes for Japan and Costa Rica in their opening matches, to say the least! Japan went 1-0 down to Germany courtesy of an Ilkay Gundogan penalty in the first half. However, in the second half, they introduced Takehiro Tomiyasu at the left-centre back position. They moved from a four to three at the back, which changed the game. Other critical introductions were Kaoru Mitoma for Yuto Nagatomo, Ritsu Doan for Ao Tanaka, Takumi Minamino for Hiroki Sakai, and Takuma Asano for Daizen Maeda. Mitoma ran the left flank as a quasi-wing-back, and Doan and Minamino gave the Japanese more spark. Doan equalised in the 75th minute. Asano for Maeda was also a game-changer since Asano scored the winner in the 83rd minute after a beautiful first touch, carry inside the box and shot whipped across Manuel Neuer. The energy that the change of system and substitutions gave the Japanese cannot be underestimated in this famous victory.
Costa Rica were poor, being destroyed 7-0 by Spain. Most teams would struggle when Spain pass the ball as well as they did and are in the mood, but the Costa Ricans’ ageing squad showed no appetite, legs or energy. Ten teams have conceded seven goals at a World Cup, and eight have lost the next game, so history is not on their side. They might be demoralised for this match, but we will see how Japan vs Costa Rica pans out.
Injuries and Suspensions
Might not play: Sakai, Tomiyasu (Japan)
Will not play:
Japan vs Costa Rica Prediction Analysis
Possible Changes from the First Matches
Japan ultimately played very well against Germany, and the previously mentioned change of system and substitutions served them well. They may be tempted to be a little more expansive from the start against an old Costa Rica squad. However, they will also beware of a backlash after Costa Rica’s humbling by Spain. Nevertheless, Japan will likely play a 4-2-3-1. Tomiyasu and Sakai are both doubts, so Miki Yamane might come in at right-back, though it is tricky to say. There is a chance that Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu maintains the 3-4–2-1 system, which resulted in a positive performance in the second half against Germany. However, we think he will go four at the back if Tomyaisu is not fit. Mitoma might play in a more natural wide left forward position in this game, with Yuto Nagatomo backing him up. Asano should be rewarded with a starting place thanks to his excellent performance and winning goal against Germany. Doan and Minamino also changed the game, but we think they will start from the bench. It is a testament to Japan’s depth in wide and midfield positions that they may not start.
Costa Rica will probably make a few changes to give them fresh legs. Youngster Brandon Aguilera could come in for Celso Borges in midfield, as the latter was poor against Spain. Kendall Waston could also play. However, it is difficult to predict how many starters from the first match will lose their place in Japan vs Costa Rica.
The wide areas in this match will be crucial. As stated, Japan have several talented wingers, though we think Junya Ito and Kaoru Mitoma will start. Whichever players play in the wide areas, they must link up well with their full-backs, who will provide opportunites for overlaps. The Japanese full-backs and wingers are very quick and technically gifted. They will look to attack Carlos Martinez and Bryan Ovideo in the Costa Rican full-back areas. The Costa Ricans must be mindful of the Japanese trickery and dribbling ability. The pace of the Japanese wingers will also be vital in transitions when Costa Rica commit men forward. The wide men must also look to cross the ball or play little slide-rule passes for Asano up front. Overall, Japan have many weapons at their disposal through utilising their width, and their inventiveness and cuteness might open Costa Rica up.
Going the other way, Oviedo and the right-back (likely Martinez) must try to provide an attacking outlet for Costa Rica. It will not be easy against a younger and more energetic Japanese team. However, they must try to cross the ball for Anthony Contreras and Joel Campbell. 18-year-old Jewison Bennette is the one player in this Costa Rican team with some magic. He was their best performer against Spain, showing a few bright sparks. If they can get the ball to him, he can attack the Japanese right-back and attempt to get down the line with his pace or come inside and link up. Bennette will likely be involved if Costa Rica are to score in this match.
The younger Brandon Aguilera might replace Celso Borges to give Cosa Rica more legs in the middle of the pitch. They need it because Endo and Tanaka were very spritely against Germany and battled well against their German counterparts. Endo, especially, was very aggressive in the tackle and showed great spirit. Both teams had fewer than 30 per cent possession in their opening matches, but you would expect that against Germany and Spain. In Japan vs Costa Rica, the onus will likely be on the Japanese to take the game to Costa Rica. We expect Japan to have more of the ball. However, this situation may not suit them, as they tend to enjoy using their pace on transitions and counter-attacks. Still, Costa Rica will have to be more expansive in this match and show more positivity, even if Japan are likely to control the game. Aguilera’s fresher legs in midfield could be crucial here. However, Ao Tanaka and Wataru Endo will try to outrun and outfight Aguilera and Yeltsin Tejeda. Costa Rica did not deal well with the Spain press on the rare occasions they had the ball, and they will be under similar pressure against Japan. Japan will likely win the midfield battle, giving them a platform to feed Daichi Kamada and let him create in the number 10 position.
Japan have plenty of options. If Sakai and Tomiyasu are fit, they can both play right-back, as can Yamane. Tomiyasu also plays left centre-back. Hiroki Ito and Shogo Taniguchi are possible centre-back replacements. As stated, Japan have many quality players in wide and attacking areas, such as Kamada, Mitoma, Ito, Takefusa Kubo, Minamino, and Doan. Minamino and Doan could be rewarded with a start after doing brilliantly against Germany. However, they are fantastic replacements if not. Costa Rica captain Bryan Ruiz is in his late thirties now, but he could inject a touch of class and creativity late in the game. Borges can come on if he doesn’t start, and Alvaro Zamora and Johan Venegas are also options.
Japan Key Players
Endo played very well against Germany in the second half and was a constant presence in midfield, fighting for the ball against the German midfielders. His tireless energy and running proved a consistent problem for Germany. Against the ageing legs of Costa Rica, he will look to do the same. Endo loves a challenge and a physical battle and shows much heart in games. He will be responsible for taking the ball from the Japanese centre-backs and controlling the game alongside Ao Tanaka in the Japanese midfield. He must feed the wingers and cover any possible gaps Bennette, Campbell, or Contreras might find. Endo’s energy will be crucial in Japan vs Costa Rica, as Japan should control the game.
Asano gave Japan much more of a focal point against Germany than Daizen Maeda did. Hence, we expect him to be rewarded with a start after his fantastic goal and performance. Against Costa Rica, he will give Fracisco Calvo and Kendall Waston a torrid time, running them ragged and dragging them out of position. He will also drift towards the channels to link with the Japanese wingers. A tireless worker and good finisher, Asano will be licking his lips in anticipation of this match. He knows Costa Rica will be dejected after conceding seven goals against Spain. Asano will prey on this lack of confidence and attempt to get one-on-ones with Keylor Navas..
Costa Rica Key Players
Navas has been a world-class goalkeeper throughout his career, but at age 36, he seems to be in decline. Indeed, he was at fault for a few of the Spanish goals in their first game and submitted a pretty poor performance. He will need to do much better against Japan, as we expect the Japanese to have chances. Navas must try to find some of his shot-stopping ability to keep players like Asano, Mitoma, Doan, Ito Kamada, and Minamino out. He will also be important in terms of distribution, as he must play well ball out accurately to the Costa Rican defenders. Japan can press high and win the ball if his passing is poor.
Bennette was possibly Costa Rica’s only positive from the Spain match. Indeed, he showed on the rare occasions he had the ball that he is a tricky customer with pace and good dribbling ability. There is some uncertainty over who will start at right-back (or right wing-back) for Japan. Therefore, Bennette hopes he can take advantage of any issues here. He was on his own against Spain, consistently outnumbered and overwhelmed, but he generally did well. Against Japan, he will look to attack that left channel and deliver crosses into the box or come inside to shoot himself. Costa Rica will need Bennette to show some invention and moments of magic to get a good result.
Japan vs Costa Rica Prediction
We see Japan vs Costa Rica as relatively comfortable for Japan. Of course, no two games are the same, and Costa Rica might freshen their team up and put in an entirely different performance. It is also difficult to judge, as Spain can strangle the life out of any team and frustrate them with their excellent passing. However, Japan were brilliant against Germany, and they should control the game and create chances. They should do this by carving Costa Rica open by breaking down their low block and attacking space on transitions on the occasions Costa Rica show more adventure. Japan should win this game, given their superior energy and talent (especially in wide areas) and possibly qualify for the round of 16, as we also think Spain will defeat Germany.