Japan – Australia 1:0 (0:0)

Official FIFA.com match website:

Japan impressive again

It seems like a little bit natural for the neutral spectator to have sympathies for the hard working busy little bees. But you perhaps also had your sympathies for a very good Australian team that have gone through the group of death in extraordinary manner and also held Brazil at bay in the round of 16.
But Japan again showed their class to finally grind out a well deserved victory by holding the Australian team on their backfeet and not allowing them to show their pacy attacking style we used to see in their previous games. Australia defended very well and disciplined not giving the Japanese too much space to get clear attempts on goal.
But when overtime was lurking behind the corner more and more Japan finally showed that they not only can score from one of their beautifully crafted self-created opportunities but can as well be able to “fight” the ball into the net.

Maybe it was not accidentally that this finally came from Iwabuchi who seemed to inject some fresh air to an understandably tiring team. Especially given the great heat on the pitch. It might be very necessary now with semis and finals following in fast succession to have fresh legs and use your substitutions to add to these on time for all remaining teams as well.

Maybe the heat played a factor. Maybe it was a tactical decision. Maybe the Japanese were too commanding from the very first minute. The pacy Australia never really showed up. We didnt see much of deVanna, Kerr, Foord who rarely were able to really come further than just out of the blocks to see their attempts held off immediately. And a free kick when Kerr was quite unfairly stopped by Iwashimizu who earned a yellow card was one of the rare opportunities for Australia you can remember all game long. But the shot from Kennedy got about a meter wide and that about summed up how close the Australians came to scoring in this game. Some shots on goal all got too central so that is was not too difficult to block them for Kaihori. But not only since that goal against the Netherlands you somehow feel danger when a shot is fired in direction of this particular little bee in that big goal despite she proofed to be there also when needed to catch crosses in the air.

Still it seems to be a big surprise that no opponent so far in this world championships have managed to score from a corner kick or a set piece against Japan. England are certainly targeting this having scored after set pieces against Norway and Canada. Apart from this Japan is still using only high crosses in front of goal when they have a corner kick themselves and that even lead to the decider against Australia. Something Australia should really unhappy with having defended Japan successfully from scoring from open play. And you still think Japan should be able to play short kicks or other variants from corner kicks against bigger teams with counter attacks into their – then unsorted – defense also dangerous opportunities.

Australia however have shown that they are on a good way during this world cup and have a very solid base to further build upon. They should stand a good chance to qualify as one of the two participants from Asia for the Olympics in Rio. They maybe should work on their passing skills to be able to set up their attacks more accurately and being more comfortable in possession to allow to open up the spaces to set up their forwards.

Player of the match:
Japan is so much a team effort that this feels not right to pick a particular player out. After FIFA took my last pick Utsugi this time I go for Kawasumi because she was the player who created the most chances on her right wing with Ogimi as an alternative despite their defense was the stronger part in this game.

Player Ratings Japan (0-10)

Kaihori 8
Nothing too difficult but everything she had to do, she did well

Aryoshi 7
Solid team player.

Kumagai 8
Calm and solid as ever.

Iwashimizu 7
One fault lead to an opportunity for Simon but big role in the goal generation.

Samechima 7
Solid in defense. Has had games with more offensiv actions though.

Kawasumi 8
Was the most creative of the midfield to set up a lot of play over the right wing.

Sawaguchi 7
Covered a lot of ground in midfield as usual.

Utsugi 8
Again a little bit more of an obstacle to come by for the opponents as the other midfielders

Miyama 7
The same goos and reliable team player as always. Not quite on level with Kawasumi on the other side regarding the offense but rock solid.

Ohno 7
High workrate as always. Should create yet a little bit more.

Ogimi 8
Little bit more dangerous. Got only difficult chances to take and struggled just a little bit.

Player Ratings Australia (0-10)

Williams 8
Solid performance. Faultless.

Foord 7
Very cautios and reluctant in offense. Ok defensively

Alleway 8
Rock solid center back performance.

Kennedy 8
Rock solid center back performance.

Catley 7
Ok defensively but also very reluctant when Australia was in possession.

Kellond-Knight 8
Did well to stop Japan but not enough again when Australia had the ball.

van Egmond 7
Also ok defensively but not enough in offense.

Gorry 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

Simon 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

de Vanna 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

Kerr 6
Tried but it was not enough when Australia was in possession of the ball.

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