Japan’s preparations for the upcoming World Cup in Russia aren’t going entirely to plan.
They topped their group ahead of Saudi Arabia back in September with 20 points from ten matches, but their long list of friendlies since that success doesn’t paint the best picture for the Japanese supporters.
Their most recent failure was on Friday, when they required a 95th equaliser from substitute debutant Shoyi Nakajima to draw 1-1 against Mali.
This makes it three wins, two draws, and three defeats in their eight matches since the qualification period ended.
Japan are missing a key man for this duo of friendlies to be fair. Shinji Kagawa is sidelined with an ankle injury, leaving Keisuke Honda as their main man and top scorer.
However, with Frankfurt defender Makoto Hasebe captaining the team and a number of other top flight European names in the squad, they were expecting to win on Friday.
Ukraine didn’t even make the World Cup Finals though, finishing 3rd in their group behind Iceland and Croatia.
It was always going to be a difficult task to qualify in that group to be fair, but that will do little to comfort the Ukrainians.
They are also missing a key player in Andriy Yarmolenko, but will be looking to Manchester City youngster Oleksandr Zinchenko and Schalke winger Yevhen Konoplyanka to compensate for his absence.
It was striker Artem Kravets who made the difference on Friday though, scoring the opening goal against Saudi Arabia before they conceded six minutes later and drew the game 1-1.
Ukraine have now won just four of their last nine matches, and with Japan also struggling to get results on the board, this looks like an evenly matched game.
The squads are rather even as well, and with that in mind we think a Draw is the most likely outcome and the best value for money here. That, along with a 1-1 correct score predictions.
Post Credit: freesupertips.co.uk