Tag: Japan

The 2012 Olympic Games: France & Japan Light Up Wembley

There has been quite a lot written over the last few days on the subject of the Olympic Games and its various interactions with association football. A lot of this – in particular the hand- wringing chip wrapper fodder about how the behaviour of competitors over last couple of weeks has somehow ‘shamed’ our national game – but there is perhaps a grain of a point to be made about the different feeling that Olympic football has had about it in comparison with the standard, bread and butter that we usually imbibe to the point of intoxication. Is the Olympic crowd a ‘different’ one and, if so, is this ‘preferable’ to elsewhere? In the case of the British teams, there is an obvious case to answer in the affirmative, but Britain, as we are all clearly aware by now, is a special case, with its curious geopolitical state and history meaning that a British team would have an element of the piecemeal about it whilst courting a degree of uncertainty through to its very end. What, though, of the rest of the two tournaments? There can be little question that Olympic football is different, but what has the reaction been to it all and how might this coloured, tempered or perhaps even enhanced peoples experiences of it? It was this in back of the mind that we travelled to...

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The 2011 Womens World Cup Final: USA 2-2 Japan (Japan Win On Penalties)

It started slowly, before rising to a beautiful tumult and ended with a penalty shoot-out which ended in a victory for the team of the aesthetes. And then, on top of that, the crowd had the good sense to roundly boo Sepp Blatter. To that extent, this evening’s Women’s World Cup final was, in other words, a series of small victories for football and the end of a tournament that has been a credit to its host nation, Germany, and to the womens game in a more general sense. This was a tournament that could have fallen flat after the surprise exit of the hosts at the quarter-final stage, but instead it picked a different momentum with Japan, playing sometimes beautiful and occasionally vulnerable football and containing a team featuring some players with back-stories that would break the stoniest of hearts, giving it a new narrative which sustained it through two thrilling semi-finals as well as this evening’s high drama. All of this is to perform a disservice to an American team that played a full part in this evening’s match to the extent that each Japanese goal came as a bolt from the blue. Ultimately, however, the United States of America were too one-dimensional and over-reliant on their greater strength and other physical attirbutes. They were, ultimately, unable to work their way through a Japanese game-plan that seemed...

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The 2011 Womens World Cup: England 2-0 Japan

Coming into form at the right time is a critical aspect of tournament football, but it is one that occasionally feels as if it is overlooked. This evening, against a team that played some sublime football in their previous match, England put in a performance which suggested that they might just be doing exactly this and, while it would be premature to suggest that they could win the tournament, a comfortable win in their final group match this evening against Japan saw them continue the upward trajectory that they have followed since the start of the tournament. Of course, we could question how the commitment of the Japanese team by might have been affected by having already qualified with two wins from two matches, but any team can only play the team that they are up to play against. One of the criticisms previously levelled at the England coach Hope Powell is that she may carry a certain degree of tactical inflexibility – a criticism that might have been considered to have some legs after the drab draw with Mexico in their opening match – but this certainly didn’t seem to be the case this evening. Powell shuffled her pack this evening and, whilst Japan had previously been stylistically compared with Barcelona, the England midfield got in amongst their players tonight, stifled Japan’s pass and move technique and prevented...

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At Last, The Penalty Shoot-Out Arrives

Although so many of the normal constituents of a World Cup finals – complaints about the ball, Sepp Blatter contradicting himself in public, Cristiano Ronaldo’s pained expression & enormous Adam’s apple combo, England getting dumped on their backsides – have been present and correct, it had begun to feel as if something was missing from the 2010 World Cup finals.  The penalty shoot-out. In fact, until this afternoon only one second round match had even gone to extra-time from the six already played. Over the last few days, it has at times felt as if this stage of the competition, a straight ninety minutes with no need to worry about permutations and what might be happening elsewhere seems to have suit the strongest teams, and the wins for Germany, Argentina and Brazil had the air of a stroll in the park about them. This afternoon, however, two well-matched teams played each other and we finally got a battle to the very end. Paraguay and Japan didn’t set the world alight with the one hundred and twenty minutes of normal football that they played, but they did at least manage to bring the world some tension with the penalty shoot-out that followed. There are good penalty shoot-outs and relatively dull shoot-outs, but there is no doubting that they are all moments of stomach-clenching apprehension. Even if you are watching the...

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World Cup 2010: Paraguay 0-0 Japan (Paraguay win 5-3 on penalties)

They say that consistency helps in football. Especially in terms of number of players you use. This seems to be one of Japan’s tactics, as they enter this game with the same XI that began each of the group games with. Paraguay give first starts to Edgar Benitez and Nestor Ortigioza, as they become the sixteenth and seventeenth players to start for the South Americans (with two others having played as substitutes). Ortigoza makes his World Cup debut, leaving Dario Veron and Rodolfo Gamarra as the only two outfield Paraguayans to see any action. This is an ideal game to see if consistency is a better plan than rotation, as history sees these two sides equally matched. The World Rankings see Paraguay fourteen places ahead of Japan, but the South American teams get a slight advantage in the World Rankings due to the number of World Cup Qualifying games that they play – Japan may play more friendlies, but these as less valuable than competitive games (especially World Cup games) as far as FIFA’s rankings. A more reliable barometer is the head to head games between the two. The two nations didn’t meet until 1995, when Paraguay won in Tokyo. However since, then it’s Played 5 Japan won 1, Paraguay won 1, Drawn 3. These teams are nicely matched. In fact, maybe they’re too matched, as they cancel each...

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