World Cup pre-game: Japan vs. Greece

Despite dropping their opening matches, Japan and Greece can stay in Group C contention with a victory on Thursday (CBC,, 5:30 p.m. ET).

Victory would keep either winning nation in contention

Panagiotis Kone had a standout game in an otherwise poor effort by Greece against Colombia. (Alex Grimm/FIFA via Getty Images)

Group D: Uruguay vs. England

What’s at stake

Is the end nigh for these two teams? It will be for whoever loses this match.

Japan defeated Greece 2-1 in its only previous head-to-head, a friendly in 2005.

Impact players

  • Japan: Keisuke Honda. He scored Japan’s only goal against Ivory Coast. And he’s Japan’s all-time leading World Cup scorer.
  • Greece: Panagiotis Kone. This midfielder had a standout game in an otherwise poor effort by the Greeks against Colombia. Kone had some of their best chances on net, and will look to spark a fire among his teammates.

What to watch for

Japanese manager Alberto Zaccheroni said his team lacked chutzpah against Ivory Coast. Look for his team to come out hard and fast from the first whistle.

Greece had strong possession — 54 per cent — in its game against Colombia, but to no avail in the end. The Greeks want stronger finishing from their forwards in finding the net against Japan.

They said it

  • "We weren't aggressive enough. We need to improve on that because we've been playing better than that – and we can play better than that – and we'll work on that in our next two games." — Japan’s manager Alberto Zaccheroni talking after their first-match loss.
  • “You can’t make excuses when you lose 3-0. We had good spells of play and all we can do now is look at the next matches.” — Greece manager Fernando Santos speaking to reporters after being thumped by Colombia.

The Big Number

4 — Honda has scored or assisted in four of Japan’s last five goals at the World Cup. That highlights his value to his Blue Samurai team, and reinforces the pressure he’s on to carry them in Brazil

Obligatory Fun Fact

Japanese fans helped clean the stadium in Recife after their team lost to Ivory Coast.


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