Japan could barely win the last match against Saudi Arabia and advance the next round of the tournament.
It was a extremely severe game.
I didn't imagine Japan would be overwhelmed in that way.
Then, tonight, Japan faces Vietnam on the quarter final of AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Vietnam is the champion team of ASEAN Football Championship held in November to December in 2018.
Their football style is passionate, decisive, and tenacious with some dexterity in controlling the ball.
Since they are a young team, they will be superior to Samurai Blue in terms of stamina in the match.
In the group stage, confronting Asian football giants:Iran, Iraq, they played really well.
In the first match of the knock out stage, they beat Jordan, which surpassed Australia and advanced at the first place of the GroupB.
They have gained confidence and momentum a lot now.
The key point in the tonight match is which team takes the initiative in the side area.
As Japan has the edge for the set plays in the game because there is a gap between the average heights, Vietnam's head coach won't opt for a strategy to stay retreated in their goal area all time.
I guess he has decided to keep Vietnam's formation compact and make the all players in the pitch pressure our players controlling the ball not to play well from the kick off whistle.
It depends on the conditions of Japan's offensive player, but I think it is better to pick up Inui-sensyu as the playing member and to have Endo, Shiotani, and Shibasaki-sensyu constitute Japan's central midfielders.
This formation will stabilize Japan's offense and defense against Vietnam team.
It would be effective putting pressure on the Vietnam's side player by Inui-sensyu's dribbling and skills to make the opponent's formation extended and unordered.
Having Ito or Doan-sensyu stay near the side line would be also conducive to cracking the opponent's strategy.
Averting opponent's high pressure, providing the side attackers with quality balls and in event that Japan lose the ball, immediately pressuring the ball holder will be needed for Japan to force the young team to stay tied down on the defense third.
These actions will bring more set plays to Japan too and make the likelihood of Japan getting the ticket for the semi final increase.
I hope the game will be exciting.
Go for it! I am always rooting for you, Samurai Blue.