Japan looks to lock up a spot in the second round of the 2018 World Cup, while already-eliminated Poland tries to get a point or three for pride.
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• Follow our coverage of the other Group H game, Colombia vs. Senegal
How to watch: In the U.S., Fox Sports 1 and Telemundo have the broadcast at 10 a.m., but you can stream it here.
38’: Another Poland Chance
Grosicki’s corner is poor, but after it is cleared Kurzawa of Poland rushes in for a shot. He hits it very hard and very, very high.
35’: Japan Chance
Usami of Japan pokes one across the goalmouth. Fabianski punches it away.
33’: What a Save!
Grosicki’s header is stopped by a fantastic one-handed diving save by Kawashima! Easily the chance, and save of the game. Kawashima’s making up for his shaky performances earlier in the tournament.
27’: Poland’s Defense Holding
Cross by Japan headed clear. Corner to Japan headed clear. Poland using its height advantage. Glik in particular is a big guy who is dominating the center.
22’: Chance for Poland
Header by Glik of Poland just wide. And keeper Kawashima was on hand in any case.
21’: Short Passes Everywhere
Many games at this Cup have turned into contrasts of styles, with one team (usually the favorite) playing a deliberate short-passing style and the other pushing the ball directly forward in hopes of an opportunistic goal. Not so this game; both sides are going with the deliberate style of play.
17’: Where’s Japan’s Offense?
Sakai tries a tame shot from outside of the box, but it’s right to the keeper. Where’s Japan’s offensive firepower? Possibly all on the bench?
13’: Chance for Japan!
Yoshinori Muto pulls off a steal in the Poland box, holds the ball and eventually it gets to Okazaki whose diving header is well wide.
5’: No Chances, But Poland Controlling Ball
No chances yet, but Poland has controlled the action. Though it is the eliminated team, Poland is a (very) slight favorite with bookmakers.
Poland in white, The new look Japan team in blue. How will Japan fare with all four of its scorers on the bench?
How Japan Can Advance
A quick reminder of the situation today: Japan must win or draw to advance. It could also advance with a loss, but it would then have to rely on the other game breaking right, which of course it would much rather not do. As for Poland, it cannot advance, but surely would love to leave Russia with a good result. And striker Robert Lewandowski, still goalless, will be eager to get on the scoreboard.
Japan’s Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: 1 Eiji Kawashima (Metz)
Defenders: 5 Yuto Nagatomo (Galatasaray), 20 Tomoaki Makino (Urawa), 22 Maya Yoshida (Southampton), 19 Hiroki Sakai (Marseille), 21 Gotoku Sakai (Hamburg)
Midfielders: 16 Hotaru Yamaguchi (Cerezo Osaka), 11 Takashi Usami (Augsburg), 7 Gaku Shibasaki (Getafe)
Forwards: 9 Shinji Okazaki (Leicester), 13 Yoshinori Muto (Mainz)
Some changes for Japan, but not the expected one. Eiji Kawashima will remain between the sticks despite some errors in his first two games. But Shinji Kagawa, Yuya Osoko, Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda are on the bench — despite being the four players who have scored for Japan!
Poland’s Starting Lineup
Goalkeeper: 22 Lukasz Fabianski (Swansea City)
Defenders: 5 Jan Bednarek (Southampton), 18 Bartosz Bereszynski (Sampdoria), 15 Kamil Glik (Monaco), 3 Artur Jedrzejczyk (Legia Warsaw)
Midfielders: 6 Jacek Goralski (Ludogorets Razgrad), 11 Kamil Grosicki (Hull City), 10 Grzegorz Krychowiak (Paris St Germain), 21 Rafal Kurzawa (Gornik Zabrze), 19 Piotr Zielinski (Napoli)
Forward: 9 Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Poland have swapped goalkeepers, with Wojciech Szczesny out and Lukasz Fabianski in.
Japan vs. Poland Top Story Lines
• Japan has qualified for five previous World Cups, advancing past the group stage twice. Poland has not made the second round of a World Cup since 1986.
• Poland cannot advance to the next round. But for Japan, the game matters. A win or a draw would be enough for Japan to go through. If Japan loses, it could still advance, but will need a little help: It would need Senegal to win, or Colombia to win by a smaller margin than Japan loses by.
• Japan beat Colombia, with goals by Shinji Kagawa and Yuya Osoko, then rallied twice to draw Senegal 2-2, with Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda scoring.
• Robert Lewandowski, the ace marksman for Bayern Munich, has been a disappointment for Poland so far, failing to score despite taking seven shots, three of them on target.
• Poland was outplayed by Senegal and Colombia, surrendering five total goals and scoring only one, by Grzegorz Krychowiak.
• “We gave Polish people a lot of joy in the last four years. We didn’t give the fans those dreams here at all. We want to change it tomorrow,” said winger Jakub Blaszczykowski.