Will Poland Spoil Japan’s World Cup Party?

Jun 28, 2018 5:00 AM EDT

Japan vs. Poland, 10 a.m. ET, Fox Sports 1

  • Poland +192
  • Japan +165
  • Draw +228

Bet to Watch:

Japan to win +165

Japan is one of the surprises of the tournament. Coming into the World Cup this seemed like one of their weaker teams. It is stylistically similar to past versions, willing to pass the ball around and use possession to create chances, but a little bit older, a little bit slower and a lot less able to cause good teams problems.

That’s why their performance against Senegal was eye-opening. They beat Colombia on the back of a penalty and a man advantage for almost the entire game, which might be shrugged off. But their draw against Senegal, who have looked impressive themselves, was a different story. Samurai Blue fell behind twice and each time came back through controlled play that pried apart Senegal’s back line. It wasn’t a fancy way to get to a 2-2- draw — they mostly worked the ball wide in order to isolate and attack Senegal’s fullbacks. But it worked.

With four points, they aren’t guaranteed to advance and will need at least a draw against a Poland side that’s already been eliminated. A lot of this match will hinge on exactly how invested Poland are in showing up. Pound for pound, the European side is better than Japan, and considering that they play overlapping styles — both teams want to possess and pass the ball — Poland should provide a challenge for Japan.

But given how disappointing Poland’s tournament has been, and how thoroughly unable they’ve been to get star striker Robert Lewandowski into their matches, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Polish side simply be uninterested in chasing Japan’s capable possession around the field and contesting the play defensively. And that’s a scenario that would let Japan control the game, and their destiny.

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