World Cup Odds and Picks: Netherlands Vs. Japan Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 6/17/2010
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Two results - one expected and one a surprise - means that this game between Netherlands and Japan will likely determine the winner of Group E. At the very least, the winner of this game will be moving on to the second round. Netherlands was supposed to beat Denmark and they did, though they didn't earn style points doing so. Japan upset home continent favorites Cameroon and earned their first World Cup win away from home in the process.
The crucial Group E contest takes place on Saturday, June 19 in Durban. If you want to catch it you'll have to be well behaved on Friday night, because those 7:30 am ET kickoffs can really sneak up on you.
Netherlands has been ranked as high as second in the world, and is currently sitting fourth. They have twice played in the World Cup final - losing both times - and have 16 all-time World Cup wins. Japan, on the other hand, is ranked 45th in the world, and earned just their third World Cup win in history on Monday. They only qualified for their first World Cup in 1998.
The players from Netherlands spend their time playing in some of the top leagues in the world. More than two-thirds of the team plays outside of their own country, and they are part of some of the top teams in the world's best leagues in England, Spain, Germany, and Italy. On the other hand, the large majority of the Japanese players play at home in Japan. That country didn't even have a professional league before 1992, and the league is far from an elite international grouping. Those that do play away from Japan certainly aren't on the top teams n the world. The largest single factor in the strength of a team is the strength of the long term preparation of the players, and in this regard Japan isn't even remotely competitive.
Japan may not have the talent of the top teams, but they get full points for self-awareness. They knew that they wouldn't be able to match Cameroon shot for shot in the opener, so they employed the best strategy they had - stifling defense. They turned the contest into one of the slowest, dullest imaginable. They had few opportunities to attack and score, but they were willing to accept that because they were able to empty the midfield and concentrate entirely on making sure Cameroon had no opportunities, either. It was a strategy that worked very well once, but Netherlands is a far more talented team, and that could be an issue.
Netherlands was clearly the better team against Denmark, and there wasn't a lot of doubt about the outcome. Especially after the Danish team did the Dutch a favor and scored on their own goal. It's a bit of a concern, though, that the team didn't have the jump and flair that we often see from them. They were stunningly good in their first two games - overwhelming wins over Italy and France - at Euro 2008. They would have had their hands full against those teams if their energy level had been like it was on Monday. Perhaps time, and the potential return of injured star Arjen Robben, will help them look sharper next time. That may not be a huge factor next game, but it will be huge in the next round.
Netherlands vs. Japan World Cup Odds
Not surprisingly, Netherlands is heavily favored in this one. The Dutch are at -1.5 +110, with Japan far behind at +1.5 -140. If you don't want the points involved then Netherlands is heavily favored at -300, and Japan is a serious longshot at +800. According to the odds even a draw would be unlikely good fortune for the Japanese - the odds of a tie are a hefty +350. The total is 2.5. Odds are courtesy of Bodog and Sports Interaction.
Netherlands vs. Japan Picks and Predictions
Netherlands will win if: They just play their game. They are superior offensively, more skilled on defense, much deeper, and dramatically more experienced. There is absolutely no reason for them to lose this game, and if this were a best-of-5 or best-of-7 then they wouldn't. Anything can happen in one game, though, so Netherlands just has to show that they want this game. Game planning is also going to be important here. Japan's likely defensive approach is no surprise, so the Dutch need to be prepared to meet that and overcome it effectively.
Japan will win if: They play the defensive game of their lives. They need to do what they did against Cameroon, but do it much better. Netherlands has more talent and more depth than Cameroon, so the Japanese won't be able to shut them down nearly as easily. Japan had obviously prepared their gimmicky game-plan to get past Cameroon, and you can assume that they also have a more advanced, more aggressive game-plan in place for the Dutch. If it's a great plan, and if it is executed almost flawlessly, then the Japanese may be able to win. Anything short of flawless play will be bad news.
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