Japan and Mexico are set to make their final FIFA Confederations Cup 2013 appearance. Both teams failed to advance into the knockout stages but they have one last chance to play for national pride and finish the tournament on a positive note. It’s a tightly cast market across the board for this match but according to the soccer odds at Bet365, Mexico is the slight favourite at +160 whilst Japan is the mere underdog at +170. Based purely on the competition thus far, and if the first two rounds of Group A action were any indication at all, then surely Japan has to be the smart play, right?
Japan were unlucky in defeat to Italy
Japan vs. Italy was an outstanding display of attacking football. One of the best games of the Confederations Cup so far and, in hindsight, when all is said and done in Brazil, it may well have been the best match of the entire tournament. More importantly, it has to be said that Japan were rather unlucky to lose.
Zaccheroni had issued a challenge to his men after their uninspired effort against Brazil in the opener and the Blue Samurai, one and all, answered. They showed just how impressive they can be and how much potential they have to become a really dangerous floater in 2014 Brazil.
Japan raced to the early 2-0 lead with Honda tucking away a 21st-minute penalty and then with Kagawa beating Buffon 12 minutes later with a left-foot shot in the box. Italy fought back however with three goals on either side of half time to take the 3-2 lead, albeit one was an own goal by Atsuto Uchida. Japan kept their peckers up in spite of the setback and in the 69th minute they found their just reward and drew level.
The final push was no less dramatic. Japan had the momentum and just when it looked like they would actually pull off the upset, the posts and crossbar conspired against them to send opportunity begging. That was as close as they would come unfortunately, and it was all the incentive Italy needed to finally deal a blow to Japan’s hopes with less than five minutes remaining on the clock.
Indeed, the defeat was an agonising one for Japan but they left us with plenty of positives to takeaway. Though they need more experience against the world’s best teams they showed they have the ability to compete and the quality as well as the heart. That alone should send them into this last match against Mexico in a positive frame of mind in order to win and finish out the tournament on a high note.
Mexico leaves much to be desired
Without dwelling overly on Mexico and what went wrong, suffice it to say that they were disappointing in the competition. What should have been a platform upon which they would revive their World Cup campaign has turned out to be a springboard for further decline. Clearly, this is a team suffering from an existential crisis and it needs to get back to the drawing board.
Offense has been non-existent; the only goal they've scored so far was a penalty kick against Italy. Against Brazil they failed to make an impression whatsoever. Overall, they looked to be a disorganized unit from front to backline.
As far as they are concerned in this competition, it’s well and truly over for them. Upcoming World Cup qualifiers are far more important now than gaining a win in Confederations Cup is to salvage national pride. And on that note, here are my predictions.
Soccer Betting Verdict: Based purely on the body of work each team has put forward in FIFA Confederations Cup, Japan would appear to be the choice soccer pick at +170 to win outright. And given their overall positive approach to this competition and their valiant effort against Italy and, in turn, seeing how deflated and disorganized Mexico were after losing to Brazil, all of that suggests Japan could pull off the win rather convincingly. Bookies fancy Under 2.5 at -118 at Bet365 and we’re down with that. Bookies also fancy a 1-0 score to Japan at +700 but were plumping down for a 2-0 score with better odds of +1100. Speaking of which, a two-goal winning margin for Japan is trading at +600.
Soccer Free Picks: Japan to win 2-0