MATCH PREVIEW: JAPAN VS SPAIN, OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020 SEMIFINALS, CAN THE HOSTS UPSET THE MIGHTY SPANIARDS
After a week of hard-fought battles in the Olympic Games, Japan and Spain have made it to the semifinals hoping to win a medal for their country this time around. The last time Japan won a medal in football was in 1968 as they beat Mexico for the bronze medal. Spain’s national football team too haven’t won a medal in recent history but with the talent they have this year, they would be confident heading onto the pitch.
Both teams haven’t reached the finals in the last 2 decades and are as close as they can be to win at least a silver medal in the prestigious competition. Japan were dominant in the group stage as they scored 7 goals and conceded only once in 3 games, however, things got out of hand in the quarter-finals as they couldn’t find the net against New Zealand. Eventually, Japan won 4-2 on penalties.
Spain on the other hand had an easy 5-2 win over Ivory Coast and are looking stronger with every game. Here’s everything you need to know before the Semifinal 1 fixture between Japan and Spain at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
No players are out due to injuries or suspensions for Japan. Hajime Moriyasu has been playing a similar squad throughout the tournament and would probably stick to what has been working for him.
Japan Predicted Starting Lineup: Tani Kosei, Nakayama Yuta, Itakura Kou, Yoshida Maya, Sakai Hiroki, Tanaka Ao, Endo Wataru, Soma Yuki, Takefusa Kubo, Doan Ritsu, Hayashi Daichi.
Dani Cabellos was the victim of a horrific tackle in their game against Egypt and has been ruled out of the squad. Oscar Mingueza also got injured in the Quarterfinal. The rest of the squad is fit for Luis de la Fuente’s selection.
Spain Predicted Starting Lineup: Unai Simon, Juan Miranda, Pau Torres, Jesus Vallejo, Eric Garcia, Pedri, Mikel Merino, Marco Asensio, Dani Olmo, Rafa Mir, Mikel Oyarzabal.
Real Madrid’s Kubo has been on fire at the Olympics this year. With 3 goals to his name, he has been the highest goalscorer for Japan and has taken 17 shots in the tournament so far. It is quite clear he is the man the rest of his teammates’ trust in front of the goal. Spain will have to try and keep him off the ball as much as they can since he has been a real threat for his side.
Rafa Mir would be highly confident hedging onto the pitch having scored a hattrick against Ivory Coast in the Quarterfinals. Spain were in a deadlock against the Ivory coast by the end of 90 minutes and Mir was subbed in to finish the job. Having scored 3 goals in extra time must have won him a place in Spain’s starting lineup.
Both teams look evenly matched looking at their performances so far in the tournament. Spain are not playing like everyone expected them to but have done enough to find themselves so close to the final. Japan have been extremely dominant in the midfield which helped them have 21 attempts last game against New Zealand. Still, the overwhelming quality gap on paper between the two sides should shine through. FootTheBall predicts Japan 1-2 Spain.