Current Fifa Ranking : 47th with 638 points
World Cup Appearances : 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010
Best Achievement : Round of 16 in 2002 and 2010
Head Coach : Alberto Zaccheroni
Captain : Makoto Hasebe
The Asian champions were the first country in all continents to qualify for this edition of the World Cup, amassing the most points and goals in Asia’s final group stage. Appointed in August 2010, head coach Alberto Zaccheroni has made sure that more of his players feature in Europe’s top leagues, a process which has come to fruition following the country’s improvement in national football.
Paired up with the Colombians, Ivorians and the Greeks, the Blue Samurai will certainly need to rely on their star players to hit top form in order to see off their rivals, whether it’s with attractive football or with conventional methods which further enhance the chances of results. Colombia are probably the most solid side in the group, whilst Drogba and Karagounis will make sure that their compatriots fight until the end for a chance at progression.
The team captain is the ever reliant Makoto Hasebe who plays for Nurnberg in Germany. A couple of top class players are at Zaccheroni’s disposal, including Inter Milan’s Yuto Nagatomo, voted Asian player of 2013, as well as Schalke 04’s Atsuto Uchida are great names to have in defence. The midfield contains a number of stars as well, particularly Manchester United’s Shinji Lagawa and AC Milan’s Keisuke Honda. During qualifiers, Mainz 05’s Shinji Ozakazi proved to be one of their most efficient strikers, wanting to showcase his skills further at the biggest stage possible.
This team does have the potential to be one of the tournament’s surprise packages, needing inspiration from their top players in order to invigorate the rest of the squad. Should both Kagawa and Honda be in top form, this side could harm even the favourites, therefore progression past the group stages could well be a possibility within their grasp.