On Tuesday 12 June, SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) faced the Paraguay National Team in an international friendly match at Innsbruck, Austria. INUI Takashi’s brace helped the team win their final test match ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. The 4-2 victory also gave Coach NISHINO Akira his first win since taking over the helm.
The match kicked-off under cloudy weather at Tivoli Stadion, where the local Japanese children showed their support with hand-made blue balloons in hand, as they chanted “Nippon” repeatedly.
In order to determine the best possible selection for their World Cup opener against Colombia, Coach Nishino stated that he will “utilise every player on the roster” in their matches against Switzerland and Paraguay. The coach stayed true to his words and rotated 10 players from the starting line-up of the Switzerland match.
Starting in goal was HIGASHIGUCHI Masaaki (Gamba Osaka), the coach elected four defenders at back with ENDO Wataru (Urawa Red Diamonds) at right and SAKAI Gotoku (Hamburger SV), the only player to start in the two matches, on the left. The two players from Kashima Antlers completed the back line as UEDA Naomichi and SHOJI Gen where named as the centre halves. SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.) and YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) served as the defensive midfielders while INUI Takashi (Real Betis) and MUTO Yoshinori (1.FSV Mainz 05) were placed in the flanks. OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club) was named the lone striker with KAGAWA Shinji (Borussia Dortmund) placed just beneath him......
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