Exhibiting an exciting brand of end to end football in their 2014 FIFA World Cup Group C clash this morning, Japan and Greece have surprisingly played out a nil-all draw at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal.
Having each registered heat-breaking defeats in their World Cup campaign opening matches last week, both the Japanese and Greeks were expected to fly from the gates this morning, in turn allowing themselves the best possible chance of progression.
Caught on the back foot for the game’s opening 10 minutes, Japan were forced to dig in in defence, continually holding out raid after raid from the Greek offensive line and appearing to be well and truly up to the task.
Reversing the pressure over the game’s proceeding 20 minutes, Greek captain Konstantinos Katsouranis was shown a yellow card for a careless challenge in the 27th minute, before leaving his team in a terrible position when being sent from a field for a similar challenge just 10 minutes later.
Surprisingly reversing the run of play once more in the minutes proceeding Katsouranis’ second yellow, Greece was unlucky not to find the back of the net when a strong solo performance from gun striker Georgios Samaras just missed finding a position in the net of Kawashima.
Returning from the break in particularly positive form, Japan launched an assault on the Greek goal and were noticeably boosted by the introduction of veteran and key midfielder Yasuhito Endo, who found Keisuke Honda is space almost immediately after entering the stale mate; the resulting shot unluckily whizzing over the crossbar.
Continuing to pressure the Greeks in their own half, a Japanese goal appeared imminent, however the Blue Samurai continued to lack a final touch and were unable to find a match winner, running out the clock for a scoreless draw.
With each remaining on zero competition points following their second round encounter and Columbia all but wrapping up top spot after beating the Ivory Coast 2-1, things do not appear promising for both Greece and Japan to finish second in Group C and qualify for the knockout stages of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
Greece will now have to beat the Ivory Coast by a substantial number of goals to ensure progression, while Japan will have to beat Columbia and hope Greece beat the Ivory Coast in a low-scoring match to head to the knockout phase.
Currently given little hope of success, Greece is offered at generous odds of $3.75 to beat the Ivory Coast on June 25th, while Japan can be taken at odds of $3.40 to knock off Columbia at leading online bookie Ladbrokes.com.au.