The SAMURAI BLUE (Japan National Team) advanced through to the round of 16 in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. On Thursday 28 June, Japan lost their third group stage match against Poland 0-1 at Volgograd Arena, but with Colombia’s 1-0 win over Senegal, Japan clinched second place in Group H, making their third overall advancement into the second stage. It will be their first appearance in the round of 16 since 2010.
After the third group match, Japan and Senegal were tied with one win, one draw, and one loss. The two teams were also tied in goal differentials and total goal scored as well. Due to FIFA’s tiebreaker regulation, Japan’s advancement was determined by the fair-play-points, where the team with the fewest violations wins the tiebreaker. As a result, Japan clinched second place, while Senegal was eliminated after finishing third. It was Colombia who topped the group with their six points after winning two matches in a row after dropping their first group stage match against Japan. Poland, who earned three points in their final match, left the tournament in fourth place.
Japan entered the match with the advancement into the round of 16 at stake. Needing a tie or better to secure their spot, Japan rotated six players from their second group stage clash against Senegal four days ago. With MAKINO Tomoaki (Urawa Reds) replacing SHOJI Gen (Kashima Antlers) in the defence line, YAMAGUCHI Hotaru (Cerezo Osaka) was paired with SHIBASAKI Gaku (Getafe C.F.) in the defensive midfield position. SAKAI Gotoku (Hamburger SV) was positioned in the right flank while USAMI Takashi (Fortuna Dusseldorf) started in the left flank. OKAZAKI Shinji (Leicester City Football Club) and MUTO Yoshinori (1.FSV Mainz 05) started as the two strikers in their 4-4-2 formation......
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