With four quite equable teams in the competition, the Group H should be interesting to watch at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and the action starts on Tuesday, June 19th, 2018, when Colombia meets Japan at Mordovia Arena in Saransk. These two sides already faced each other four years ago in Brazil, when Colombia hammered Japan 4-1 in the ultimate game of the group stage, so let’s see what can the bettors expect from this clash in Russia. Colombia is a strong -156 favorite to win once more, but Japan is surely determined to get a payoff.
Colombia vs. Japan
3-Way: 1: Colombia -156; X: +260 Draw; 2: Japan +450 at BetDSI Sportsbook
Spread -1: Colombia +130; Japan -165
Total +2.5: Over +125; Under -164
Both Teams to Score Yes/No: +110/-152
Los Cafeteros will have a difficult task to replicate the result from Brazil 2014 where they reached the Quarter-Finals, although they are set as the strongest favorites to reach the second round from Group H with the odds at -275, whilst the price on them to make it to the last eight is set at +187. Colombia had some hard time in the qualifying round, clinching the World Cup spot in the ultimate match against Peru, and finishing with a 7-6-5 record and a 21:19 goal difference. After a terrific 3-2 victory over France in the friendly game, Los Cafeteros has earned a couple of disappointing nil-nil draws against Australia and Egypt, showing some weaknesses in their attacking flow.
The Golden Boot winner from the previous World Cup James Rodriguez will lead this Colombia team, and he will have a great support in the 32-year old striker Radamel Falcao who’s still a top-notch player, while the winger Juan Cuadrado should be another key player for Los Cafeteros this summer. The youngster Davinson Sanchez will be a defensive rock along with the experienced Cristian Zapata, and the reliable defense could be Colombia’s biggest strength. The manager Jose Pekerman prefers a patient style of play, but he doesn’t hesitate to set all-out attack when it’s needed, and he really possesses some big guns at the front.
Japan had some turbulent time in the last three months, sacking Vahid Halilhodzic after some divergencies over team’s style of play, and replacing him with Akira Nishino. Halilhodzic wanted to play on a counter, relying on a sturdy defense, but Japan Football Association decided to stick with a traditional short-passing game, so Akira Nishino will continue to develop a ball-possession style of play. Nishino brought back some experienced names to the national squad, such as Keisuke Honda, Shinji Okazaki, and Shinji Kagawa.
The captain Makoto Hasebe will lead the side, as the 34-year old versatile midfielder is still playing on the highest level, while Shinji Kagawa could be a potential star in this Japan team if he finds the right form this summer. Kagawa has struggled with injuries in the past, but he’s undoubtedly the most talented individual here. Japan was beaten in the previous two friendly encounters against Ukraine 2-1 and Ghana 2-0, looking pretty fragile on the field, so the manager Nishino obviously needs more time to gel the things in the starting eleven, while defensive line seems like the weakest link.
Colombia vs. Japan – Match and Odds Breakdown
Four years ago, Colombia dominated Japan through a physical play, as Los Cafeteros were far stronger in aerial duels than Samurai Blue, and this time we could see more of the same, as neither side hasn’t changed a lot in their squads. Colombia’s defenders will have some problems with pacey Japan’s players, but in aerial duels, they will literally beat up Japanese.
However, this is still the first game of the group phase, so we could easily see a cautious approach at the start of the match on both sides. I wouldn’t be surprised if Colombia leaves the ball to Japan and wait for some opportunities on counter-attacks, while each corner-kick will be a nice opportunity for Los Cafeteros to come forward. Japan should have a difficult time to keep the clean sheet, especially after some poor defensive displays in the last few months, so they will have to find the way through Colombia’s defensive line.
The bookies aren’t convinced that both teams will score on this one, setting the wages at +110 which is quite tempting, but I think betting on the totals would be a better choice at even greater odds, as the price on Over 2.5 Goals is set at +125. I will go with the spread, as I think Colombia will win this clash, while the bettors can take a look at all lines and markets on BetDSI Sportsbook.
The Pick: Colombia AH -1 (+130)
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