After Colombia’s narrow 2-1 win in the battle of the Group C winners earlier this evening, tonight’s late match sees the two first round losers squaring up. Japan are a young, stylish team, backed by some to be the next breakthrough side at the top of the international game. Their loss in the first round was a tight affair and go into this game as the favourites.

Greece didn’t set the world alight in their first match, comfortably beaten by Colombia. It was a continuation of a dreadful record at the World Cup finals for Greek teams which, on that showing at least, shows little sign of abating. Nevertheless, if Greece are able to find their feet – and more importantly, their scoring boots – they could yet spark the group into life and turn their final game with the Ivory Coast into a winner-takes-all bonanza. A Greek win would also do Colombia a solid: it would guarantee the South Americans passage to the second round for only the second time in their history.

Mark Murphy and Ted “the ninja” Carter will be your guide to this one.

You can follow Mark on Twitter here.

You can follow Ted on Twitter here.

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Mark June 20, 20141:00 am

And Greece have crossed the finish line. A point apiece keeps both teams in it but you’d rather both were out of it. A better match than it might have been, especially after Greece went down to ten men. But I think I may have set some kind of “damnation by faint praise” record. Seedorf puts Japan’s display down to jet lag. Shearer…no, still don’t care. Lineker notes how terrible Greece’s scoring record continues to be. Shearer cites their obtaining of a clean sheet. Neither notes how many more points Greece have in this competition than…Australia, Cameroon, Spain and……you ALL know who. Lets see, who have I got tomorrow? Honduras v Ecuador. Well, I DID ask for it.
And, at last, the BBC show Colombia. A happy ending at least. Nighty-night again.

Ted June 20, 201412:53 am

Full time: Japan 0-0 Greece. Japan outclassed 10-man, mule-stubborn Greece completely but were unable to make the breakthrough. I fear this is more to do with their own shortcomings than anything else, as Greece put in one of the best terrible performances you’re likely to see. Resolute in defence, impenetrable goalkeeper and several decent efforts on goal. The fact they didn’t have the ball at any point in between these things is neither here nor there. Japan lose 2 points and have Colombia, who have now qualified for the last 16, in their final match. It’s not looking good for either of these sides, but for different reasons.

Mark June 20, 201412:49 am

A minute left. Endo curls in a shot from a free-kick and Karnezis saves well low to his left. Four minutes of stoppage time. Greece can see the finish line.

Mark June 20, 201412:45 am

Lots of “good old-fashioned defending until Nakatomo fires in a cross-shot. “Oooh, its hit one of his own players,” says Pearce, as if that wasn’t what Nakatomo was hoping to do. Sadly, it hits Yoshida and flies over.
Japan fans are shouting “Puto” at Greek goalkicks. Unexpected, that.

Ted June 20, 201412:42 am

If Greece score now, I’m going to burst.

Mark June 20, 201412:41 am

Samaras “flies in” to head wide from a corner but Japan soon re-apply the pressure.

Mark June 20, 201412:39 am

In the midst of all the whinging about Greek time-wasting and England’s defending, an interesting match is developing. Still a bit of a stinker. But good, as stinkers go. And, yes, I AM a wee bit short of sleep.

Ted June 20, 201412:37 am

Meanwhile, Greece are preparing to bring on Salpingidis, which will be their 15th substitution of the night

Ted June 20, 201412:36 am

Japan’s bold new plan, Shooting From Afar, almost pays off but Okubo’s shot is straight at Karnezis.

Rob June 20, 201412:35 am

We should do a 3-2-1 podcast. I’m sure this has been suggested before.

Ted June 20, 201412:34 am

SOME NUMBERS: 15 – the number of minutes to go; 11 – the number of times Greece have had the ball

Ted June 20, 201412:33 am

Japan, now playing a 2-3-5, are climbing all over Greece to no avail. This is proving to be something that is growing in humour.

Mark June 20, 201412:33 am

Pearce harrumphs at Greek time-wasting (“we’ll still be here at Christmas”), because England would be in a TEARING hurry in the same situation.

Mark June 20, 201412:31 am

Uchida fires wide after Sokratis rolls the ball along his own six-yard line to set him up.
This would be a more fun rearguard action if we had the remotest sympathy for Greece.

Ted June 20, 201412:31 am

Oh dear, Japan miss what really can only be described as a Massive Sitter. It’s the full back Uchida who fails to impress as the ball bibbles wide from some calamitous Greek defending.

Ted June 20, 201412:29 am

Japan are now playing with nine up front in a perfect square, something simply bound to end well

Mark June 20, 201412:28 am

Chance of the match. Kagawa, who HAS made a difference, helps to set up Okubo, who misses, horribly, from three yards. Honda would have scored it. But, to be fair, HONDA didn’t get into position to do so.

Ted June 20, 201412:27 am

Ian June 20, 201412:25 am

Of course, the fact that the picture is posted immediately below your name doubles the comedy value of that picture, Edward.

Mark June 20, 201412:25 am

Pearce asks what the difference is between EPL and World Cup defending. None. They’ve both been rot. What’s he on about? Meanwhile, the referee is apparently “giving the Greeks everything.” “Booze” says Pearce, seemingly implying that the ref has had a sniff of the barman’s apron…until he adds, eventually, “of derision.” Images of the ref propping up the bar with Robbie Savage leave my mind. For now.

Ted June 20, 201412:24 am

Ian June 20, 201412:24 am

Is that Samara Beckwith, looking like the missing fifth member of Led Zeppelin?

Ted June 20, 201412:23 am

When I was a toddler I remember having a toy Dusty Bin, but had no idea what it was.

Mark June 20, 201412:21 am

SamarOS makes a welcome re-appearance, alongside the Theo Gakis I name-checked earlier. No wonder the midfield’s so packed.

Ian June 20, 201412:20 am

I’ve just flicked over to Challenge TV, but 3-2-1 isn’t on. Alas, alas.

Ted June 20, 201412:19 am

It would be better yet if they summoned the spirit of Cameroon 1990, got another player sent off and THEN nicked it.

Mark June 20, 201412:19 am

Gekas has a header very well saved by Kawashima as Greece “pile” on the pressure. Three corners in a row, Karagounis nearly booked for time-wasting before taking the first one.

Ted June 20, 201412:18 am

A continuation of the first half: Japan have all the play but Greece are coming closest to scoring. Gekas has a header just scooped wide by an alert Japanese goalkeeper. I’m getting “against the run of play” out ready to use.

Ian June 20, 201412:18 am

This kind of sums it up for me:

Mark June 20, 201412:16 am

Bradley Walsh wins a goalkick for Greece as Shinji Kagawa comes on for Japan. 16 times he gave the ball away in Japan’s 1st game – which is more often than Samaras has had the ball in a game and a half.

Ted June 20, 201412:15 am

Shinji Kagawa is now on as a substitute. A chance for him to remind us of what he can do. Apart from ‘not get a game for any team he plays for’.

Ted June 20, 201412:12 am

Galling to discover that the “veteran” Endo is in fact only two-and-a-half months older than me.

Ted June 20, 201412:10 am

Yasuhito Endo is noted for his vision. He calls it the Endo Scope.

Mark June 20, 201412:09 am

Japan veteran Yashuito Endo is on for the second half. And Japan are pressing a bit more. Could be fun, this.

Ted June 20, 201412:07 am

Or maybe he thinks his name is Zac Ereiny

Mark June 20, 201412:07 am

So, if you were Scots or Welsh, and hadn’t seen any of Colombia’s hugely entertaining win over Cote D’Ivoire because you were at or on the way home from, work, you still haven’t. Just more of bloody England. EBC or BBC?
Meanwhile, Samaras shoots from 45 yards, just after kick-off. Cheeky. Caught the keeper out of position. But ten yards wide.

Ted June 20, 201412:07 am

I’d be more inclined to heed Martin Keown’s wisdom on Alberto Zaccheroni had he not just called him Zaccherini.

Ted June 20, 201412:04 am

ANYWAY, good morning sports hounds. It’s time for the second half of this international soccer match, where we will find out once and for all who is best: Greece or Japan.

Ted June 20, 201412:03 am

Just switched back over to BBC 1 to find Gary Lineker picking apart England’s failings in their 2010 World Cup defeat to Germany. My will to live has taken a rogering.

Ian June 20, 201412:02 am

(That was the time when I posted that video, by the way)

Ian June 19, 201411:59 pm

Ted June 19, 201411:57 pm

I’ve just noticed that every clock in this room tells a different time. I’m choosing whichever one is latest as being the most accurate, as this is closer to my bedtime.

Mark June 19, 201411:50 pm

In the BBC studio at half-time, Alan Shearer says…no, I don’t give a fcuk either.

Mark June 19, 201411:48 pm

Well, that 45 minutes flew by, though I don’t know why. Pearce insists that Samaras has “put in a shift down the left.” But his “pass map” was tweeted after half-an-hour. He’d made one.

Ted June 19, 201411:47 pm

It’s half time in Natal and the score is a pulsating 0-0, or 11-10 if you’re counting players remaining on the field. Japan have been the better team, Greece have had the better chances, and it’s not been a terrible game. The BBC punditry will surely be 15 minutes of discussion about England, so this is probably the most in depth chat about *this* game as you’re going to get. And I’m an IDIOT.

Mark June 19, 201411:46 pm

I am SOOOO pleased that I had no idea of the rolling capabilities of D&D dice.
Great defensive header from Torosidis – who apparently NEARLY went to Fulham in 2013. Unfortunately he was attacking at the time.

Ian June 19, 201411:45 pm

Those 27-sided Dungeons & Dragons dice more or less roll.

Ted June 19, 201411:44 pm

They sort of bobble.

Mark June 19, 201411:43 pm

And dice don’t really roll, do they?

Ted June 19, 201411:42 pm

Greece are now rolling the dice again, their second change forced by the dismissal as the first was forced by injury. They’re going to run out of players some time around the hour mark at this rate. And, possibly, dice.

Mark June 19, 201411:41 pm

Great right-foot shot from Torosidis is well-saved. The Greek full-back then nearly does himself a mischief with a vein-popping rant at himself. But Giorgios Karagounis restores the Fulham quotient from the bench for his 7,000th cap, give or take.

Ted June 19, 201411:40 pm

Of course, Greece respond with their best attack of the game. The problem with their system seemingly having revealed itself at last.

Mark June 19, 201411:39 pm

Greek captain Katsouranis is sent off for a second booking. And as “he knits them together”, Greece are in trouble. It’ll be dropped stitches all night now.

Ted June 19, 201411:38 pm

Oh now hold on: the Greece captain, Katsouranis, has managed to get himself sent off for two bookings within 38 minutes. Steven Gerrard is suddenly feeling marginally better about himself.

Ted June 19, 201411:37 pm

If I were the manager of Japan, I’d suggest he tries entering the box and see what happens.

Ted June 19, 201411:36 pm

The Japan playmaker, Honda, is having a decent enough game. However, he seems either completely unwilling, or unable, to enter the penalty area. As though he’s a Scalextric car and he’s out of track.

Mark June 19, 201411:35 pm

Yoshito Okubo heads over the bar. “If they could get that right they’d be leading,” notes Keown correctly but utterly, UTTERLY superfluously. Mitroglu is off injured, as per, to be replaced by Theofanis Gakis. Possibly an improvement. Possibly.

Ted June 19, 201411:34 pm

If there’s one thing above all else to really relish about England being eliminated from the World Cup, it’s that it stops all the presenters and pundits and commentators talking about England when they’re actually meant to be talking about a completely different match. Not everyone cares as much as you do about England, you peons. And I’m English.

Mark June 19, 201411:32 pm

Mitroglu gets an elbow to the ribs, after Keown said “he might have pulled a muscle as he went down with no-one near him.” At which point Pearce asks him for all sorts of tactical analysis. Ye Gods.

Ted June 19, 201411:31 pm

Good, but not great.

Ted June 19, 201411:30 pm

It was that rare beast: a free kick at the 2014 World Cup that was good.

Mark June 19, 201411:29 pm

How do you know?
Honda does a bit of goalkeeper palm-stinging from a free-kick. Not quite the power of dreams but we’re kind of getting there.

Mark June 19, 201411:27 pm

I think you’ve spotted the flaw in their plan there, Edward…

Ted June 19, 201411:27 pm

Remember kids: the World Cup is never worse than drowning in slurry, no matter what happens.

Ted June 19, 201411:27 pm

Greece keep on mugging the Japanese in such a way that it’s hard to imagine that they won’t score a goal today. Unless they’re absolutely useless.

Ian June 19, 201411:26 pm

Don’t have nightmares, kids:

Ted June 19, 201411:23 pm

I find the single thin vertical stripe on the back of the referees’ shirts at this tournament enormously distracting.

Mark June 19, 201411:23 pm

Game getting stretched. Looks likely to be better than Iran/Nigeria after all, with Russia/Korea firmly in its sights.

Mark June 19, 201411:22 pm

Yuya Osako finishes a neat move with a neat shot which is neatly saved. “Neat” as they used to say in the 1970s. And then curls a good one wide from 20 yards.
Belo Horizonte is apparently now, 64 years after England lost to the US there, “Belo Horizonch.” Mind you, Pearce was in “Porte Allegro” for the France/Honduras game. No wonder he couldn’t work out the goal-line technology.

Ted June 19, 201411:19 pm

Japan are now starting to graft actual shots onto the end of their passing chains. A welcome development.

Ted June 19, 201411:18 pm

On the subject of tactics, on the red button at the moment the BBC have provided the tactics-cam. A wonderful tool that proves what we all know: tactics are largely boring and irrelevant.

Mark June 19, 201411:18 pm

Pass completion after 15 minutes. Japan 132 Greece 26. Blimey. That means…nothing at all.

Mark June 19, 201411:15 pm

Twitter is a masterclass in cynicism at the minute. A lot of people will be pressing “delete” a lot if England get through, which is still quite conceivable, given that it requires the favourites to win each of the last three games in the group.

Ted June 19, 201411:15 pm

the strategies of the two teams seem to be: Japan plan to walk it in, Greece plan to hit them on the counter when a pass goes astray.

These are both good strategies and complimentary ones too. It’s only the application of them letting us down at the moment.

Mark June 19, 201411:12 pm

First ten minutes. Greece have the only two shots, Kone having a good effort just now. Japan’s strategy is “why take one pass when 27 will do.” Its their strategy throughout their national system, so they should be good at it. For once, the Mexican wave is understandable…

Ted June 19, 201411:11 pm

For a variety of reasons, I’ve seen very little of the Japanese football team. They’re playing much as I guessed they would, with neat passing but not a lot of cutting edge.

Mark June 19, 201411:07 pm

Mitroglu has a shot blocked. And a late team-change for Greece. Keown has spotted Samaros in the number 7 shirt. Keep an eye on him, though he looks a little in the Samaras mode. Then Pearce reminds us that Keown played for England and you wonder why modern fans complain. Keown also thinks England players “will be packing their bags or thinking about packing their bags.” Keep the faith, Martin,
Still 0-0.

Ted June 19, 201411:06 pm

Things I DO like about the Greek national football team:

1. they have good names
2. Giorgios Samaras’ beard
3. they made Cristiano Ronaldo cry once

Ted June 19, 201411:02 pm

It’s still 0-0, by the way.

Ted June 19, 201411:02 pm

World Cup Wily.

Ted June 19, 201411:01 pm

Just thinking about all the people in Japan watching this game, eating their breakfast, makes me realise how delicious Japanese breakfast must be.

Mark June 19, 201411:01 pm

They are Greg Dyke’s favourite kind of wily, “Wily B.”

Ted June 19, 201410:59 pm


Mark June 19, 201410:59 pm

Zaccheroni, Japan’s coach, is “wily.” Is anyone OTHER than a football coach/manager “wily?”

Ted June 19, 201410:58 pm

Right. It’s Greece vs Japan, it’s 11 p.m., and they’re both playing one up front. Let’s do this thing!

Mark June 19, 201410:57 pm

Still, at least the weather’s nice…oh…wait…

Ted June 19, 201410:56 pm

Team news: Japan drop Shinji Kagawa. Can Shinji Kagawa get a game for ANYONE?

Ted June 19, 201410:56 pm

Do I still count as a viewer if the telly is on and I’m in the same room as it, but I’m fast asleep?

Mark June 19, 201410:55 pm

Mind you, the BBC studio preview has probably cost them half their viewers. And I VERY strongly suspect that the words “lets join our commentary team Jonathan Pearce and Martin Keown” will have done for most of the rest. Has a live World Cup game ever been “zero-rated” in terms of viewing figures?

Mark June 19, 201410:52 pm

Sometimes, games like this are surprisingly good. Sometimes they are Iran v Nigeria. Japan were, by a good bit, the more impressive of the losers at the weekend. But Georgios Samaras knows, I’m sure, that Neil Lennon won’t be in the BBC studio to tear his reputation to shreds. And if Sammy is on his day, Greece could be…erm… Well, they have to “go for it” and Greece “going for it” will at least be novel.

Ted June 19, 201410:45 pm

Keeping up the spirit of full disclosure, I’m currently watching Terminator 2, so my knowledge of the tactical fine points may be a little off.

Ted June 19, 201410:37 pm

However, I am keeping myself sane thinking that if I were watching this game in Greece, it wouldn’t kick off until 1 in the morning. In Japan, meanwhile, it is a far more civilised 7 a.m. job.

The Japanese, man. WAY ahead of us.

Ted June 19, 201410:35 pm

Greetings sports fans, night owls and free owls alike. In the spirit of full disclosure, I have some things to confess. Firstly, I’m normally in bed by 10 p.m. Secondly, I had a really lousy night’s sleep last night. Thirdly, Greece are my least favourite international football team to watch, I tend to find their performances soporific even during lunchtime kick-offs. The chances of me going to sleep during this liveblog are significant.