World Cup Preview – Group H | Japan v Senegal – Poland v Colombia

The winner of Japan v Senegal on Sunday will see them progress to the knockout stages of the World Cup.

Japan beat Colomba in their opener, whilst Senegal overcame Poland – and that sets this game up for the likely winner of Group H.

Senegal have emerged as favourites to win the group, but coach Aliou Cisse is not under-estimating the threat presented by Japan.

“We are not too euphoric because we know it will be a difficult match against Japan,” Cisse said.

“We need to question everything and prepare for the Japan match in the same way.”

Akira Nishino has also tried to keep his feet on the ground, and he insists his side are now focused on trying to seal qualification.

“If it was just one game, we would organise a parade on the streets of Saransk, but we have more games to come, so we will save our celebrations,” said Nishino.

“We made enough prep work before the game and it worked well. Every player played to their best, especially in the second half. We controlled the ball better, that is why we got the second goal.

“The victory tastes good, but the second and third games will be ahead and they will be tough. We must be ready.

“I’d have to admit that the atmosphere in the camp is not so good at the moment. Nevertheless, we’ve still got two games to play and we should prepare well with a positive attitude.”

Many expected the Poland and Colombia match to be to decide the winner, but it now a battle as to who can keep their World Cup dream alive.

Colombia coach Jose Pekerman was full of praise for the effort his side put up against Japan – having played 87-minutes with just ten-men after Carlos Sanchez was sent-off.

“Right now our pain is precisely because after that huge effort after scoring that goal… we lost because we were worn down, we were tired and even if I tried subbing on a couple of fresh players it was very hard for us to recover possession and Japan had its opportunities,” Pekerman said.

“This is going to leave us with a bitter memory. We were expecting something completely different. We were hoping to start with a victory.”

Poland boss Adam Nawalka admits his side need to show a big improvement if they want to stay in the tournament.

“Obviously we need to play better,” said Nawalka. “We need to draw conclusions from those two goals and prepare carefully but we have a lot of stamina and strength and I’m convinced we will recuperate and regenerate.”

See below for a preview on the games, including predictions from former England and Tottenham midfielder Andy Gray and our own Football Insider Graeme Bailey and bet365’s Steve Freeth.

Japan 16:00 Senegal
Ekaterinburg Arena, Ekaterinburg
Live on BBC

Japan: Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo; Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Shinji Kagawa, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako.

Senegal: Khadim Ndiaye; Moussa Wague, Salif Sane, Kalidou Koulibaly, Lamine Gassama; Ismaila Sarr, Alfred Ndiaye, Idrissa Gane Gueye, Sadio Mane; Mame Diouf, Mbaye Niang.

KEY FACT: Senegal have avoided defeat in all three games they have played against Japan
Match odds from bet365: JAPAN 5/2 DRAW 21/10 SENEGAL 11/8
bet365 Pick: Draw @21/10
ANDY SAYS: I can Japan causing the shock and getting through by claiming the win…2-0
GRAEME SAYS: Senegal all the way for me, and they will do it with something to spare…0-3
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: Sadio Mane – still plenty of potential left in the Liverpool star

Poland 19:00 Colombia
Kazan Arena, Kazan
Live on ITV

Poland: Wojciech Szczesny; Kamil Glik; Michal Pazdan, Lukasz Piszczek; Maciej Rybus, Jacek Goralski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Bartosz Bereszyniski; Kamil Grosicki, Piotr Zielinski, Robert Lewandowski​

Colombia: David Ospina; Santiago Arias, Cristian Zapata, Oscar Murillo, Johan Mojica; Abel Aguilar, Wilmar Barrios; Juan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez, Luis Muriel; Radamel Falcao

KEY FACT: Poland have never qualified for the second phase of the tournament after losing their opening game.
Match odds from bet365: POLAND 12/5 DRAW 5/2 COLOMBIA 5/4
bet365 Pick: Colombia to win @5/4
ANDY SAYS: Close game and I think they will fight it out for a draw…1-1
GRAEME SAYS: I would go with Colombia here just to have the edge and take a narrow win…1-2
FOOTBALLIndex – One to follow: James Rodriguez – Colombia need their midfield star to step-up and he has every chance of bolstering his Index value at the same time

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