By 90Min
May 30, 2019

England's Group D opponents kick off their 2019 Women's World Cup campaign in just over a week's time.

This is everything you need to know about the Lionesses' rivals ahead of the tournament...


Squad

Just two of Japan's World Cup squad play their football outside of their home nation, with two of their defensive players playing in France and the United States respectively. Therefore, many of these players know each other very well and are well aware of their own team's strengths and weaknesses.

FBL-WC-2019-FRA-JPN-WOMEN-FRIENDLY

Goalkeepers: Sakiko Ikeda (Urawa Red Diamonds), Ayaka Yamashita (Nippon TV Beleza),

Chika Hirao (Albirex Niigata)


Defenders: Aya Sameshima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Rumi Utsugi (Reign FC), Saki Kumagai (Lyon), Shiori Miyake (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Risa Shimizu (Nippon TV Beleza), Nana Ichise (Vegalta Sendai), Asato Miyagawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Moeka Minami (Urawa Red Diamonds)


Midfielders: Mizuho Sakaguchi (Nippon TV Beleza), Emi Nakajima (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Yuka Momiki (Nippon TV Beleza), Yui Hasegawa (Nippon TV Beleza), Hina Sugita (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Narumi Miura (Nippon TV Beleza)


Forwards: Yuika Sugasawa (Urawa Red Diamonds), Mana Iwabuchi (INAC Kobe Leonessa), Kumi Yokoyama (AC Nagano Parceiro), Rikako Kobayashi (Nippon TV Beleza), Riko Ueki (Nippon TV Beleza), Jun Endo (Nippon TV Beleza)


Manager

A hugely talented midfielder who made 79 appearances for her country, Asako Takakura has been at the helm of the national team since 2016, becoming the first female coach in Japan's history.

ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/GettyImages

She worked her way up through the youth side's before been handed the role in charge of the senior team, leading her side to 2018 Asian Cup glory having implemented her philosophy successfully since succeeding Norio Sasaki.

Her desire to promote youth has payed dividends, with Japan one of the dark horses to lift the World Cup in France.


Recent Form

ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/GettyImages

Japan have played five times in 2019, winning twice match, during matchdays one and two of the SheBelieves Cup, and drawing twice.


28 February 2019 United States 2-2 Japan Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
2 March 2019 Japan 3-1 Brazil Nashville, Tennessee, USA
5 March 2019 Japan 0-3 England Tampa, Florida, USA
4 April 2019 France 3-1 Japan Auxerre, France
9 April 2019 Germany 2-2 Japan Paderborn, Germany


Strengths

FBL-WC-2019-FRA-JPN-WOMEN-FRIENDLY

This is a Japan side who are gifted technically with a whole host of flair players able to produce a moment of magic at any given moment. 


They shift the ball across the midfield beautifully, at their best they can grind teams down and let their creative youngsters express themselves. They've shown their worth already this year, beating Brazil and drawing with World Cup favourites United States and Germany, showing they have what it takes to break down well drilled defences.

At the back they have real experience, with three of their likely back four holding over 100 caps apiece, meaning they're well prepared for the pressure of featuring at the World Cup stage.

Weaknesses

Jun Endo,Alex Greenwood

While the squad is well versed with the expectation levels of playing at a World Cup in terms of defenders, the rest of the side most definitely are not.


It can be taken both ways whether this is a positive or not, but Japan's team are very young, particularly in midfield and forward areas, therefore their lack of experience could hamper their chances of success. 

Strikers Riko Ueki and Jun Endo are both 19, while of their six midfielders, four are aged 23 or below. The Olympic Games will be held in Tokyo next year, and there is a general feeling around this Japan side that the World Cup might be seen as an opportunity to gain some much-needed tournament know-how ahead of the competition. Therefore, their foot might be off the pedal somewhat, which could potentially derail their efforts in France.

Group D Opponents

Ellen White,Jill Scott

Starting with the side they will be expected to beat, Argentina will pose Japan the least threat in a group that also features England and Scotland.


The South American side head into the tournament as the lowest FIFA-ranked side, having failed to qualify for a World Cup for the last 12 years. With that in mind, they are highly expected to finish bottom of the group, conceding a good few goals along the way.

Scotland have never made a World Cup appearance before, and head to France with the shackles off. Their lack of fear may put them in good stead to attack teams with no pressure, however, this Japan side will likely prove too technically astute to suffer any shocks against the Scots.

Finally, the group is made up of England, who themselves are among the favourites to lift the trophy as well as finish the group as winners. Japan's clash with the Lionesses will be the pick of the fixtures in this group, although they will be keen to avoid a repeat of their 3-0 defeat to Phil Neville's side back in March.

10 June 2019 Argentina vs Japan 6PM Parc des Princes, Paris
14 June 2019 Japan vs Scotland 3PM Roazhon Park, Rennes
19 June 2019 Japan vs England 9PM Allianz Riviera, Nice


Route to the Final

Should Japan seal top spot in Group D then it would present them with a favourable last 16 tie with the third place team from either Group B, E or F. That could result in potential clashes with - Chile, Spain, New Zealand, China or Cameroon.

Yui Hasegawa,Beth Mead

If progression from the round of 16 is secured, then a quarter final match up would follow against the runner up from either Group A or C. a possible match-up with either Brazil, Norway, South Korea or Italy could be the likely opponent. Success in the quarter finals would be followed by mouthwatering semi final clash against likely favourites to reach that stage, United States or France.

Japan could then set up a final date with Germany, who are the side from the other knockout bracket most likely to make it all the way to the final.


You May Like

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)