Football Blog - Independent Football Writing
Football Blog

Japan Football Blog

So now at the completion of the group stage, we were down to the last 16 teams. There was a one day rest between the final group game in Group G, and the start of the knockout stage. After having two weeks of relentless football, the intermission seemed to take a lifetime.
 
Last 16
Saturday June 30th – Day 16
The first last 16 game, saw Group C winners France, play Group D runners up Argentina. France’s Antoine Griezmann slammed the crossbar with an early free kick. France were then awarded a penalty. …

Many World Cups have passed and they just seem to fly by ever so quickly. There is so much football played, that though we have watched a lot of it, whether it has been seeing the game live or watching highlights, it can really scramble the brain to pinpoint everything that has happened. I therefore had an idea to keep a diary/log from day to day, something that can be just as useful in many years as it is now, in regard to jogging the memory. So here I present …

This past week was another great one for Japanese footballers in Europe.
Takashi Inui got things started on Friday, when he scored in Eintracht’s 2-1 win away at Nurnberg. His goal in the 60th minute, cutting in from the left and lashing a low shot past Raphael Schafer, was the eventual match winner. Then in the midweek match at home to Borussia Dortmund, he starred as Frankfurt continued their great start and got a 0-0 to the two-time defending champions. Eintracht entered the half trailing 2-0 but Inui helped start the …

Japanese players had a great weekend in Europe, especially in Germany where three players scored their first Bundesliga goals.
FC Nurnberg’s 3-2 away win at Borussia Monchengladbach might end up being remembered by viewers as the game in which Hiroshi Kiyotake showed Germany exactly how good he is. Kiyotake put in a masterful performance against last year’s fourth place team, setting up two and scoring the winner (his first Bundesliga goal). In the 17th minute, he delivered an excellent freekick from the left that was headed in by Timm Klose. Then …

Shinji Kagawa started in the No.10 position for Manchester United in their 3-2 win at Southampton. In the opening minutes, United kept possession and pinned Southampton inside their own box with quick passes. However, after weathering this initial storm, Southampton came into the game and outplayed United for the majority of the first half. Ricky Lambert headed them into the lead, rising easily over Rafael and leaving Anders Lindegaard with no chance. If not for an untimely slip from fullback Nathaniel Clyne, allowing Robin van Persie to equalize, Southampton could’ve …

As the European leagues got underway this weekend, more and more Japanese players took to pitches for teams across the continent. Several players made debuts for their new teams, and notably, we had the third Japanese player to score in the English Premier League.
A week after impressing on his competitive debut for Manchester United, Shinji Kagawa became the third Japanese player to score in the English Premier League. In the 35th minute, Kagawa gave United a 2-1 lead in an eventual 3-2 win over Fulham. Playing as the No 10 …

The Japanese men finished in fourth place at the Olympics. This was a great finish, but one feels they underachieved at the end. After finishing first in their group and beating a dangerous Egypt side 3-0 in the quarterfinals, they seemed to flame out in the semifinals and the bronze medal match.
Japan 3-0 Egypt. Kensuke Nagai got things started in the 14th minute, using his increasingly impressive pace to get on the end of a great ball from Hiroshi Kiyotake. As the Egyptian keeper collided with his defender, Nagai slotted …

A 0-0 draw with Honduras was enough for the Japanese men to secure first place in Group D and a quarterfinal matchup with Egypt on Saturday. The result suited both teams, with Honduras finishing in second place and also progressing.
In the history of goalless draws, this will not go down as one of the more riveting ones. While both teams seemed somewhat interested in scoring, neither were able to get behind the defenses and create chances. The only moment when it looked like the deadlock might be broken was in …

The Japanese men defeated Morocco 1-0 to book a place in the quarterfinals. Kensuke Nagai scored the only goal in the 84th minute of an entertaining match. The victory leaves Japan needing only a draw against Honduras to secure top spot in the group and likely avoid Brazil in the quarterfinals.
Morocco started the match very well, keeping the ball and moving it across midfield comfortably. Japan didn’t seem to be pressing with the same urgency as they had against Spain, and as a result Morocco was able to keep possession …

Unless you’ve been ignoring the Olympics completely, you’ve heard about Japan’s magnificent win over gold medal favorites Spain. Yuki Otsu scored the game’s only goal in the 34th minute off a corner. A few minutes later, Inigo Martinez was sent off for fouling Kensuke Nagai on a breakaway, but Spain was still able to keep much of possession despite being a man down. Japan had a number of chances to extend their lead in the second half and put the game to bed, but their poor finishing didn’t come back …