Colombia and Japan look to kick off Group H in Saransk later today. Both teams played in the 2014 World Cup but to different levels of success. Colombia will be looking to develop on their 2014 tournament in which James Rodriguez was one of the standout players. Japan on the other hand had a poor tournament in Brazil and will be looking to build upon the solitary point they picked up in their group. The two teams met in the group stage in that World Cup. Colombia were 4-1 victors that day.
Group H: Colombia
The team look good going into the tournament with a lot of strength in attack. Although the team had a couple of 0-0 draws in the friendlies ahead of the World Cup, the team look to be a big threat. This is especially true of their attacking unit which features players such as Falcao and 2014 World Cup top scorer James Rodriguez. Colombia will be the favoured team for this match in Group H, as they qualified from one of the hardest regional qualification groups.
Rodriguez remains a doubt due to injury and a big question will be whether he starts the opening game of Colombia’s World Cup campaign. The team looks like one of the strongest in the group and a lot will be expected of the national team from the fans of this football obsessed nation. With a host of big names from Falcao to Juan Cuadrado, the team will be looking to continue where they left off from in 2014.
Group H: Japan
Japan remain one of the most unpredictable teams in the tournament. As this will be manager Akira Nishino’s first competitive game in charge, it is difficult to know what to expect from the team. The team lost a pre tournament friendly to Ghana 2-0, who failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup. After scoring twice in the final warm up game against Paraguay, Takashi Inui will certainly be in contention to start against Colombia.
Japan will be looking to bounce back from their campaign in Brazil 2014, where they picked up only one point. This caused them to go out in the group stages in the last tournament. Japan will attempt to join Iran as the only AFC nations with points in the tournament so far. It is difficult to know what to expect of the team. They could therefore look to surprise a strong Colombian side in the opening game of Group H.
Colombia will play Japan at 1:00pm GMT at the Mordovia Arena in Saransk, Russia at the 2018 World Cup.