Jun 12, 2014; Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, BRAZIL; Military Police stand guard outside a FIFA hotel in Natal. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
A fight for survival is in the cards as Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan clash against Fernando Santos’s Greece in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil today at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil. Both Japan and Greece suffered 2-1 and 3-0 defeats to Côte d’Ivoire and Colombia, respectively, and a loss will send either team home.
Kickoff at the Estadio das Dunas is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and will be televised by ESPN. Here are 10 Bold Predictions for tonight’s FIFA World Cup match between Japan and Greece.
1. At least five saves from Orestis Karnezis
Let’s start with the keepers. Granada netminder Orestis Karnezis has 20 caps for the Ethniki. He will have a huge night in goal, with at least five saves to his credit.
2. Under five saves from Eiji Kawashima
Karnezis’s counterpart Eiji Kawashima of Standard Liege, will a quiet night in Natal. Kawashima will make under five saves against the Greeks.
3. Shinji Okazaki will score
For both teams to survive, they must do like the Dutch and deliver their best Arjen Robben impression and channel their inner Memphis. The MLS Multiplex boldly predicts for a wide-open game, and one of the players that will score is one-half of the Shinjis, Shinji Okazaki. With 77 caps and 38 goals, the Mainz 05 forward will need to get on the board tonight.
4. Shinji Kagawa will score, too
With 58 caps and 19 goals, Japan forward Shinji Kagawa needs to deliver because Alberto Zaccheroni’s job is on the line this game. Look for Kagawa to score in the second half.
5. Also scoring…Keisuke Honda
Milan forward Keisuke Honda will also get on goal like he did against the Elephants of the Ivory Coast. And, as with the last match, Honda will score in the first half and get the fans watching in Tokyo and Osaka hyped.
6. Giorgios Samaras will score for Greece
Greece will finally get a goal through in this tournament at the expense of the Japanese. Forward Giorgios Samaras of Celtic has 75 caps and eight goals for the Ethniki and will score in the second half.
7. Also scoring…Theofanis Gekas
Konyaspor forward Theofanis Gekas has 73 caps and 24 goals for Greece and is their top scorer on the roster. Watch for Gekas to make this a game in Natal.
8. Panagiotis Kone with an assist
One of the rising stars on the Greek national team is Bologna midfielder Panagiotis Kone. He only has 17 caps and one goal, but he will need to be a provider when it matters most and Kone will record as assist.
9. At least 40 fouls and three cards
This is desperation time! This is the Last Chance Saloon! This is an elimination game, for all that’s worth! So both Japan and Greece will treat it as such. The MLS Multiplex will call for at least 40 fouls whistled and three cards issued.
10. Japan survives, Greece crash out
The MLS Multiplex is certain that this time, Japan will get their act together and pull out a gritty victory against a resilent Greece side. If Japan don’t pull this out, the Japan Football Association brains trust will be missing the plot by not showing Zaccharoni the door.
Japan 3, Greece 2