Japan【Qatar World Cup:Full Explanation】

National Team

All 32 teams participating in the World Cup in Qatar are introduced.

In this issue, we will introduce Group E, Japan’s national team, which has renewed its lineup drastically since the previous tournament and is aiming for a long-desired “Top 8” finish under a new organization that has been in place for four years.


Basic Information

Number of appearances7th(7th consecutive)
Highest AchievementRound of 16
FIFA Ranking24th
Capital cityTokyo
Population124.75 million people
ManagerHajime Moriyasu
NicknameThe Samurai Blue

Results of last 6 games

6/6Friendly matchBrazil0-1H
6/10Friendly matchGhana4-1H
6/14Friendly matchTunisia0-3H
9/23Friendly matchU.S.A.2-0N
9/27Friendly matchEcuador0-0N
11/17Friendly matchCanada1-2N

・Four years have passed since the tragedy of the “Death in Rostov” match against Belgium. Moriyasu Japan has gone through a series of trials and errors with the goal of reaching the “Top 8,” their best-ever finish in the tournament. Despite a poor start in the final qualifying round, the team has achieved six consecutive wins since the Australia game, and after a series of twists and turns, has qualified for the main tournament.

・The atmosphere of this year’s Japan team is a little different from the past. Moriyasu used the term “generational fusion” to describe the team’s drastically renewed lineup from the previous tournament. The number of players playing in Europe has increased, and the lineup is one that shows the progress of Japanese soccer. The framework of the team is solidified, but the only element of concern is the lack of talent in the CF position.

・The team’s Group E is unprecedentedly tough, with Germany and Spain in the same group. Although the team’s reputation is not high, this is a unique opportunity for the team to showcase the culmination of their four years of experience, considering that they will be competing against two countries that have won the tournament before. If the team can come together as one, without fear of the powerful nations, the future should open up for them.

Group Stage Schedule 【Group E】
Date of a matchLocal game start timeOpponentTotal match record
Section 1November 2316:00Germany
0 wins, 1 draw, 1 losses
Section 2November 2713:00Coata Rica
4 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses
Section 3December 122:00Spain
0 wins, 0 draw, 1 losses


(Name)Hajime Moriyasu
(Date of birth)August 23, 1968.
(inauguration)July 2018

In 2012, he took over as manager and led Sanfrecce Hiroshima to three J1 championships in four years, and was selected as the Tokyo Olympics national team coach and A team coach for his achievements.

In his playing days, he was a defensive midfielder who prioritized defense at the bottom of midfield, and excelled at winning the ball and nipping attacks in the bud, as well as delaying them. He was the first player to establish the term “volante” in Japan.

Basic Formations & Tactics

With the high level of dedication and organizational skills of the 11 members, the team aims to “kill giants” and achieve the long-desired “top 8”.

<Basic Formations>

・Japan’s greatest mission in this year’s tournament is “Giant-killing. Since the team lacks players with outstanding personalities, all 11 members are committed in both attack and defense, and are aiming for the gold star with highly organized play at a high level.

・The team has adopted a 4-3-3 formation since the fourth round of the final qualifying round in Asia, but returned to a 4-2-3-1 formation for the September match. It is likely that this formation will be used for the main event as well. This is because midfielder Ao Tanaka, who was a regular in the qualifiers, is struggling in Germany’s second division, while midfielder Daichi Kamada is in great form, with results in the Bundesliga and the CL. It would be quite natural to choose Kamada as the secret plan to “Kill the giants”.

・The strategy is to use the advantages of the players who are good at “perception and consideration” and to maintain a high level of intensity to the last minute by making full use of player changes, in order to win the game.

・The most difficult player to change is Wataru Endo, who started all four games in June.

<At Attack>

・Assuming the games against Germany and Spain, it is unlikely that they will have an advantage in possession.In the September match, the team played with the sprinting Daizen Maeda in the center, Kubo on the left, and Ito on the right. The goal of this lineup would be for Maeda to aim for the back and push down the opponent’s final line, and for both sides to take up width, creating space in the center for Kamada to play his part naturally.

 If Kubo is placed on the right and Minamino on the left, the two wings would move too much into the middle, depriving Kamada of his space to play.

・In the build-up, Endo joins between the CBs to move the ball and carry it through the midfield to the opposing team. The two frontrunners will change their positions according to the opponent’s movement, either up and down or diagonally, and the SB will stay in a high position, which has remained unchanged since the World Cup qualifiers.

・The absence of a high and strong CF makes it ineffective to play crosses from the flanks. Also, the team lacks the individual quality to make a difference in the last 30 meters, so scoring patterns are limited.

 The best scoring opportunities come on short counters after winning the ball in midfield or in the opposition’s territory. The addition of Mitoma, with his speed and ability to break through, will add even more offensive power to the team.

・If they win the ball from the opponent, they should aim to get behind the opposition by distributing the ball to Ito on the right side or to fast FWs like Maeda and Asano in the center of the park.

<At Defense>

・The team’s coach calls for high intensity and quick transitions, as he says, “good defense to good offense. In the games against Germany and Spain, a bold press will be the lifeline, as it was against the U.S. in September.

・If the opponent retains possession of the ball, press from the nearest player to regain possession immediately. If this is not possible, retire and shift to a middle press. The basic blocking formation is a 3-line [4-4-2] formation.

In June, the team showed tenacity against Brazil. However, if they cannot respond to their opponents’ pressure and play backward defensively, as they did against Tunisia, it will be difficult for them to advance past the group stage.

Star players(Top 8)

Takumi Minamino(FW/AS Monaco)

“Japan’s Ace”

“Japan’s number 10” who scored 10 points, the most in the team in the Asian qualifiers. His strength is his ability to receive the ball with exquisite positioning and face forward. He excels at playing in tight spaces with his high level of dribbling technique and agility. He also aggressively aims for goals in the vital area.

・Since he is from Salzburg, he can switch between offense and defense quickly. He has been playing chases from the front for 90 minutes without a break, and has a high contribution to defense. Since moving to the left wing due to a system change, the number of goals has decreased and he has lost his brilliance, but he will face the Qatar World Cup. I want to expect the revival of Japan’s number 10.

Junya Ito(FW/Stade de Reims)

・”Japan’s Proud High-speed Attacker”

・A Normal Foot Wing” with amazing speed and high-quality crosses that break through the top of the Japanese attacking team vertically. His greatest weapon is vertical dribbling and crossing, and he always breaks through if he has a chance. His aggressive style brings vertical dynamism and numerical superiority to the Japanese national team’s attack. He is a key player who adds breadth and options to the attack.

・At Genk, where he played until last season, he won the Jupiler Pro League Assists King and the Goal of the Year award. As a member of the Japanese national team, he also scored in four consecutive games in the final Asian qualifiers, contributing greatly to Qatar’s participation in the World Cup.

・Stade de Reims’ official website describes Ito as “a super-perfect winger with a wide range of skills” and “very skillful in front of goal. Ito is a rare player who can both start and finish.

Kaoru Mitoma (FW/Brighton)

“Japan’s Latest Weapon”

・A dribbler that cuts through the opponent’s formation from the left side with a dribbling that can change freely by determining the opponent’s center of gravity and instantaneous power. He is a technical player who specializes in playing out of close quarters with fine ball touches, and is also equipped with explosive breaking power that allows him to leave opponents behind at once. Along with Ito, he is a valuable presence that adds vertical dynamism to Japan’s attack.

・Even in a situation where the opponent is pushed in, the quality of the one-on-one breakthrough, which creates a decision opportunity by making a breakthrough from the outside to the inside of the defense and dodging one or two players, is a notable level. The play accuracy after breaking through is also high, and the last pass that surprises the opponent leads to a goal.

・In the World Cup match against Australia, he played as a substitute and scored two goals at the last minute, leading the Japanese national team to the World Cup.

Daichi Kamada (MF/Frankfurt)

”The genius who reigns in the midfield of EL champion Frankfurt”

・A technical midfielder who has excellent ball-holding power and has both propulsive power and decisiveness. He creates a unique rhythm with his wide field of view and unparalleled precision of his right foot, energizing his attacks. His sense of instantly identifying dangerous spaces for his opponents and using those spaces to create a “Difference” is exceptional. He is a “key man of Japan” who is indispensable to win against a strong country.

・Leave results wherever you are appointed as a shadow, wing, or volunteer. He scored five goals in 13 games in last season’s EL, making a big contribution to the championship. He is also attractive in big matches, such as scoring goals in the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

Hidemasa Morita (MF/Sporting)

”Versatile midfielder who plays a black role in both offense and defense”

・His ability to read the flow of the game, precise positioning, and development is appealing. He uses long and short passes to circulate the ball and build attacks. He also possesses a high level of technique and stamina.

・He also makes a significant contribution to the defense, boasting a high ball recovery rate thanks to his high crisis-sensing ability, strength in duels, and precise coverage.

Wataru Endo (MF/Stuttgart)

・”Japan’s Proud Bundesliga Duel King”

・Using his physical strength, sharp reading, and speed to close gaps as weapons, he greatly contributes to defense. He can also do jobs related to chance making and goals that make use of his sharp pass handling. He has always supported the team as an unsung hero, and now reigns as an absolute key man in the midfield.

・For the second year in a row, he won the number one Bundesliga duel wins, and has a good reputation in Germany, and is an indispensable member of the Japanese national team.

・Despite the continued difficulty in adjusting to the conditions due to the overcrowded schedule since the Tokyo Olympics last summer, he faced reality without complaint, further developed his game, and successfully led the team to remain in the first division.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (DF/Arsenal)

・”The Face of Japan’s Final Line”

・A modern defender who can play an active role at the top level in Europe as both a CB and a SB. With a height of 188 cm and a weight of 84 kg, he is a full-back at Arsenal, where he currently belongs. He manipulates the ball with both feet and handles build-ups without difficulty. He also has the propulsion to carry the ball forward himself.

・It also possesses high tactical intelligence, and can always calmly grasp the situation and accurately target it. He has been appointed as a volunteer in addition to the center back in the national team. Another strength is that he can handle multiple positions, such as right-back at Bologna and left-back at Arsenal.

Kou Irakura(DF/Borussia MG)

”Large CB who emerged in Japan’s national team”

・A defensive all-rounder, he can play as a center back and a volante. He uses his height to his advantage in the air, and in addition to his strength in the tackle, he also shows his talent when he retains the ball.

・Last season, in his first Bundesliga season, he was instrumental in Schalke’s promotion to the first division. This season, he moved to Borussia MG.

Players List

NameAgeClub teamRepresentative Results (Goals)
Shuichi Gonda33Shimizu S-Pulse32 caps・His weapon is his ability to stop shots with his excellent reflexes and physical ability.
Schmidt Daniel30STVV9 caps・Large GK with excellent physical and foot skills
・It has a wide range of defense and can contribute greatly in build-ups and feeds.
Eiji Kawashima39Strasbourg95 caps・Japanese legend who will be the fourth World Cup
・A good role model to support the team inside and outside as the oldest
・Fluent in English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and French
Maya Yoshida34Schalke 04119 caps(12)・Long-time captain of the final line in Japan’s national team
Hiroki Sakai32Urawa Reds70 caps(1)・His physicality and low trajectory crosses are weapons that are uniquely Japanese.
・Reassuring, but plagued by injuries.
Yuto Nagatomo36FC Tokyo136 caps(4)・Strengths are a never look down mentality and up and down movement with athleticism
Shogo Taniguchi31Kawasaki Frontale10 caps・High build-up ability and willingness to fight meatballs
Miki Yamane 28Kawasaki Frontale12 caps(2)・Registered as a DF but synonymous with dribbling
Kou Itakura25Borussia MG12 caps(1)・His team’s coach, Daniel Farke, also praised the team as “excellent.
Yuta Nakayama25Huddersfield Town16 caps・Accurate left foot and aerial strength are his weapons.
・Our goal is “SB that has never been done before.
Takehiro Tomiyasu24Arsenal28 caps(1)・The key is to be able to maintain a healthy body.
Hiroki Ito23Stuttgart3 caps・In addition to being strong enough to beat the bigger players in the Bundesliga, his long arms and legs make him an attractive defender.
Wataru Endo29Stuttgart41caps(2)・According to teammate Hiroki Ito, “That man is not Japanese.
Hidemasa Morita27Sporting16 caps(2)・An indispensable member of both the national team and clubs
・Busquets is an admirer.
Ao Tanaka24Düsseldorfer13 caps(2)・Excellent positioning, good size, power, speed, and no major weaknesses.
Shibasaki Gaku30Leganés58 caps(3)・Breaking the ice with a wide field of vision and a mid-range pass
・Practice demon
Ritsu Doan24Freiburg26 caps(3)・Creating chances by cutting in from the right side
・From the frustration of failing the selection process for Cerezo Osaka in elementary school, he became a great success.
Daichi Kamada26Frankfurt19 caps(5)・A key player in Japan’s national team, leading the attack.
Takefusa Kubo21Real Sociedad18 caps(1)・With the addition of Sociedad, the team awakened and showed off its skills and dribbling ability, which it had developed at Barcelona.
・Hailed as “Japan’s Messi” by various media
Takumi Minamino27AS Monaco42 caps(17)・Decided to leave Liverpool this summer for a new adventure in France in search of playing opportunities
Junya Ito29Stade de Reims36 caps(9)・Self-acknowledged shyness
Kaoru Mitoma25Brighton7 caps(4)・According to his team’s former coach Graham Potter, “He’s a bit of a nightmare for defenders.”
Takuma Asano26VfL Bochum36 caps(7)・He never fails to work hard up front and has a great sense of goal scoring.
・Nicknamed “Jaguar”.
Yuki Soma25Nagoya Grampus7 caps(3)・Scorer and MVP at E-1 Championship
・Attractive dribble penetration with the help of a spade.
Ayase Ueda24Cercle Brugge9 caps・Highly regarded for his ability as a striker, he moved to Europe this season.
Daizen Maeda25Celtic FC7 caps(1)・Strengths include overwhelming running ability and stamina, and a ‘Devil’s Press’.
・Goal performance is “Anpanman
Shuto Machino23Shonan Bellmare4 caps
・A promising youngster who achieved results at the E-1 Championship and was called up to the A-team in September.

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