Preview: Colombia v Japan

Four years on, Colombia and Japan are gearing up for another showdown at the global extravaganza. On 24 June 2014, Los Cafeteros came out firing on all cylinders to claim an impressive 4-1 victory over the Japanese in Brazil. The two teams will now meet again in Group H action at Russia 2018. What will the result be this time?

When Colombia returned to the World Cup at Brazil 2014 after missing three successive instalments, they won hearts and minds across the board. Led by star man James Rodriguez, they produced a string of eye-catching performances to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time, eventually going down 2-1 to Brazil in a tightly-contested game. This time around, Jose Pekerman’s squad will try to emulate these exploits. And why not? The team have more than enough quality to repeat history and are buoyed by the presence of all-time leading scorer Radamel Falcao, who will be making his debut at the tournament, as injury ruled him out of the previous edition.

Meanwhile, despite only making their first appearance at the World Cup in 1998, Japan have established themselves as a fixture on the global stage. Indeed, this is their sixth successive participation and they are gunning to break new ground by progressing beyond the Round of 16, which they have reached on two occasions (in 2002 and 2010). The Samurai Blue are hoping that their change in the dugout, with local coach Akira Nishino appointed in the wake of a difficult Asian qualifying campaign, can spark an upturn in fortunes.

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