Japan (four points) need a point against the already-eliminated Poland (zero points) in their last match in Group H to qualify for the next stage.
After a fine 2-1 win against a ten-man Colombia, Japan showcased their grittiness to come back twice against Senegal to draw 2-2, with the experienced Keisuke Honda getting the last goal for the ‘Blue Samurai’.
The hard-working Japanese could proceed even with a loss, if Senegal beat Colombia. Having gone out early in World Cup (WC) 2014, they now have a golden chance of extending their Russian sojourn.
Poland were disappointing in both their group matches, losing 2-1 to Senegal and getting hammered 3-0 by Colombia. They now can’t catch either Japan or Senegal, leaving the Poles playing for pride.
This is Poland’s first WC finals appearance in 12 years and it hasn’t gone to plan. The failure of Robert Lewandowski to bring his qualifying form (16 goals) to Russia has dented any hopes of progression.
Players to watch: Honda will look to celebrate in style, after becoming the first Japanese player to score in three different WC finals. He will face against a shaky Wojciech Szczęsny, who has already conceded five goals in two matches.
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JAPAN VS POLAND 28 JUNE 2018.
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Stat attack: If Japan stay unbeaten, it will be the first time since the 2002 WC that they have done so in three consecutive WC matches.
Japan have not kept a clean sheet in nine matches overall and in seven of those both sides have scored.
Poland have conceded at least two goals in four of their last five matches.
Poland, who have lost two in a row, have not lost three in succession in all competitions and friendlies since 2013.
All four matches in Group H before the final matchday have seen over 2.5 total goals.
Referee: Sikazwe J. (Zam)
Venue: Volgograd Arena (Volgograd)