Japan and Brazil continue their respective preparations for the upcoming 2022 World Cup with a friendly battle in Tokyo on Monday night. The hosts thumped Paraguay 4-1 during their most recent exhibition game, while Tite’s side put five past South Korea earlier this month. Seeking to improve on their habitual period of one group stage and then one last-16 finish at the World Cup, the morale in the Japan camp certainly rose with a humbling of Paraguay in Thursday’s friendly encounter. Takuma Asano, Daichi Kamada, Kaoru Mitoma and Ao Tanaka were all on target for the Samurai Blue at the Sapporo Dome, with Derlis Gonzalez pulling one back for the South American nation, but Japan are only on an upwards trajectory at the minute.
Hajime Moriyasu’s men have now posted seven wins and a draw from their last eight matches in all tournaments as they look ahead to Qatar – conceding a mere three goals in that run and prevailing in four of their last five home fixtures. Focus will soon turn to the latest edition of the Kirin Cup, as Ghana await Japan on June 10 before the host nation meet either Chile or Tunisia in the final or third-placed playoff battle, and testing their mettle against sides from all over the globe is a good way to go about their business before the World Cup.
An emphatic victory also came Brazil’s way during the start of their Asian tour, as despite missing a strong chunk of players who had competed in the Champions League final, the world’s number-one ranked nation were in ruthless form in Seoul. Neymar bagged a brace of penalties alongside further strikes from Richarlison, Philippe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus in a 5-1 romping of South Korea, who had briefly restored parity through Hwang Ui-jo before the Selecao kicked into gear. Qualifying for another World Cup with comprehensive ease, Brazil have now posted four consecutive wins in all competitions while scoring at least four goals on each occasion – truly staking their claim for another long-awaited triumph on the biggest international stage.
Tite has overseen a period of 12 unbeaten matches since defeat to Argentina in last year’s Copa America final, but the Selecao will have the opportunity for revenge against La Albiceleste in next Saturday’s exhibition match, and Brazil have remarkably prevailed in 19 of their last 20 friendly matches away from home. Furthermore, Brazil have managed to avoid defeat in their 12 previous encounters with Japan, who have only managed to secure two draws against the Selecao in the 2001 and 2005 Confederations Cups, and the most recent clash between the two nations ended in a 3-1 Selecao success in November 2017.
Japan lost AZ Alkmaar defender Yukinari Sugawara to injury before the triumph over Paraguay, while Takehiro Tomiyasu was also absent on Thursday following his injury-hit season with Arsenal. Moriyasu has no fresh concerns to report from the midweek success, where Takumi Minamino was given the night off after his late arrival from Liverpool, and the hosts will be loath to make many changes given the calibre of opposition. Minamino could still return to challenge Ritsu Doan and Takefusa Kubo for a spot on the right-hand side, with Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi also pushing for inclusion on the opposite flank.
Meanwhile, Brazil came through the win over South Korea unscathed, but Casemiro was the only Champions League final participant fit to start as Alisson Becker, Fabinho, Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo took their places on the bench. It would not be a surprise to see the quartet drafted in to the first XI as Tite gives plenty of players the opportunity to impress, while Eder Militao should also return to the squad, but Arsenal duo Gabriel Magalhaes and Gabriel Martinelli were both absent. Magalhaes reportedly missed out after feeling pain in his thigh during training earlier in the week, and the same is true for Manchester City number one Ederson, who is also expected to remain out of contention here.
Japan possible starting lineup:
Schmidt; Yamane, Yoshida, Taniguchi, Ito; Tanaka, Endo, Kamada; Doan, Asano, Furuhashi
Brazil possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alves, Marquinhos, Militao, Sandro; Fabinho, Guimaraes; Rodrygo, Paqueta, Neymar; Jesus