World Cup Odds and Picks: Japan Vs. Denmark Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 6/24/2010
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Denmark and Japan certainly weren't the sexy teams in Group E.
Netherlands is one of the most consistently solid European teams, and Cameroon is a compelling and talented African squad, so these two teams were just afterthoughts in most discussions. Thanks to some decent play, though, both of these teams control their own fates while Cameroon has only pride left to play for.
Both of these teams have a win over Cameroon and a loss to Netherlands in their first two contests. Though they have the same records, tie breaking rules give Japan the advantage here - they only need a draw to advance to the second round, while Denmark needs a win. Surprisingly, this is the only game in the third round of round robin action, which is a virtual playoff with a playoff spot for the winner, and nothing but heartbreak for the loser.
This crucial Group E Contest takes places at 2:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 24 in Rustenburg - the site of the surprising American draw with England.
Both of these teams are playing in the fourth World Cup in their history. If history matters in these things then Denmark has an edge; they have advanced in each of their three previous appearances, while Japan has only advanced when they had the advantage of playing at home. On the other hand, Japan has more direct experience. They have played in the last three World Cups while Denmark missed 2006, so the Japanese have more players with World Cup experience.
Denmark is here thanks to a comeback 2-1 win over Cameroon in their second game. It was the first time that they have ever come from behind. While that might indicate that Japan would be well served to get an early lead, that win has clearly given the Danes some swagger. Enough that they might be able to come from behind again if they need to.
If Japan hopes to win this game they'll have to get their offense working a lot better than it has - they have been on both sides of 1-0 outcomes. That situation is a realization of the biggest concern about this team before the tournament: a lack of offensive punch. They don't have any intimidating speed up front, and they don't have a go-to offensive player to spark something when the team needs it. Luckily, their defense has been particularly strong here, and has helped salvage the effort. Relying on the defense is the likely approach to this game as well.
Denmark doesn't have a defense to compare to Japan at the best of times, and they will be particularly challenged there. Defender Simon Kjaer will miss this game after receiving yellow cards in each of the two previous games. The Danish coaching staff will have to get creative to replace him, but they have shown no fear when it comes to making changes - they overhauled their offense by adding a third striker for the second game after failing to score against Netherlands.
Denmark vs. Japan World Cup Odds
Denmark has a solid edge in the eyes of the oddsmakers. The Danes are at Pick (-180) to win the game, with the Japanese at Pick (+140). When you factor in the draw Denmark can be had at +120, with Japan at +220, and the draw seen as least likely at +230. The total has been set at the standard 2.5 with the under favored at -160. Odds are courtesy of Bodog and Sports Interaction.
Denmark vs. Japan Picks and Predictions
Denmark Wins If: They can stick to their game plan. The Danes are clearly the second best team n this group behind Netherlands, but it took them until a half hour into their second game to remember that and start playing like they believed it. Up until then they had been uncharacteristically tentative, and they made far more uncharacteristic missteps than you would expect from a team this disciplined. Once they flipped the switch against Cameroon, though, it was like watching a whole new team. They finally realized what they are capable of. Remember, this is the team that won their qualifying group ahead of Portugal and Sweden. If they can play with confidence and focus then they will move on. And they wouldn't be an attractive opponent in the second round.
Japan Wins If: its defense is as strong as it can be. Japan will never win a shootout, and they aren't even likely to win if they need to score two or more goals to do so. Their strength, though, is the kind of relentless, smothering defense that can drive much better teams insane. Denmark has had offensive problems in this tournament - especially in the first game - so their offensive confidence could be described as fragile. Some key stops early on in this game could set the tone, grab the momentum, and give Japan the edge they need. If Denmark can break through early, though, then things will be bleak.
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