17 January 2019
Japan and Uzbekistan will face-off at the Sheikh Khalifa International Stadium in Al Ain in a match that will decide the winner of the AFC Asian Cup Group F.
Considered 11/4 favorites to wrap up the title, the Samurai Blue have started the tournament off on the right foot, securing two straight triumphs over Turkmenistan and Oman. Considering both of their successes saw Japan beating their rivals with a narrow 1-goal margin, Hajime Moriyasu’s men have to win this if looking to overthrow Uzbekistan on the top of the group. Japan are unbeaten in seven consecutive games after the World Cup exit (W6, D1), with Samurai Blue scoring over 2.5 goals per match five times during the run. What’s more, Moriyasu’s players have kept a clean sheet five times in that period, allowing over 1.5 goals per game twice though.
On the other hand, Uzbekistan’s majestic start of the competition has seen them clinch two victories, scoring over 1.5 goals per match in each. Only two teams have scored more goals than Uzbekistan (6) so far. However, apart from their displays at the tournament, the Turanians have been far from impressive in the final third lately, failing to hit the net five times in eight clashes before arriving in the UAE. Hector Cuper’s team’s main strength is their backline that has kept a clean sheet four times in their last six meetings, allowing over 1.5 goals per match only twice in the previous ten matches. Although both of their opening games produced over 2.5 goals, 11 of White Wolves’ 13 games ahead of the tournament ended with less than three goals.
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