The Japan national football team are helping to change the perception of how Asian football teams operate. Samurai Blue is the highest-ranked Asian team in the FIFA World Rankings with a current ranking of no.19.
Japan proved how impressive the growth in the quality of their football has become at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. They topped a group containing Germany and Spain, defeating both the World Cup champions as well. They got knocked out in unlucky fashion in a penalty shootout to Croatia in the Round of 16.
However, since that, Japan have been on a roll in international games and seems to have only gotten better and better. In seven official matches played in 2023, Samurai Blue has only lost one time and won five of them! That includes winning their last five matches in consecutive fashion, and that is by some margin as well.
In their last five games, Japan has scored 22 goals. That includes a huge 4-1 win over Germany in their home ground in September. That match also ended up being the final game in charge for Hansi Flick before he became the first German manager in the 21st century to be fired by the federation.
Head coach Hajime Moriyasu has completely changed the complexion of the team this year. He has been in charge of the Japanese senior team since 2018 and has helped them come a long way forward in international football. Moriyasu has also inherited a group of extremely talented, adaptive players this time around who are all performing at the highest level.
Fans have been floored by the slick, amazing brand of attacking football on display in Japan’s matches. They are actually outperforming their opposition sides by a major margin. Moriyasu has transformed their style, making them rely on one-touch passing and slick movement in the final third to torment their opponents.
Samurai Blue are actually playing like Pep Guardiola’s prime Barcelona at times and leaving opposition defenders in the dust. Here is how things went in their last five competitive games.
Japan 6-0 El Salvador:
Samurai Blue put the Central America team to the sword, taking a 4-0 lead before half-time itself. The game had six different goal-scorers and they managed to get 12 shots on target.
Japan 4-1 Peru:
Moriyasu’s side were relentless against the South American side, with Hiroki Ito and Kaoru Mitoma both getting in the scoresheet for a dominant win.
Germany 1-4 Japan:
Japan stunned Germany by taking a 2-1 lead within the first 22 minutes, before being resilient against their frontline and scoring two stunning goals in added time to get a famous win.
Japan 4-2 Turkiye:
Samurai Blue again stormed to a 3-0 lead against Turkiye, before the opponents scored two goals to make it competitive. However, a Junya Ito penalty helped give them a resounding win.
Japan 4-1 Canada:
Japan produced a tour-de-force to rampage the Canadian side, taking a 4-0 lead before the 50th minute to get another dominant win.
The Japanese side are playing like one unstoppable unit. They aren’t reliant on any particular individual. Moreover, the likes of Kaoru Mitoma and Takefusa Kubo are tormenting defenders with their tricky styles to open up their attack. Samurai Blue had a gutting end to their 2022 World Cup journey because they weren’t clinical and didn’t have a clinical forward to put away the chances against Croatia.
With that being said, the Japanese team appears to have found their ruthless edge this time around and solved their issues. Now, they’re performing like a team on steroids and absolutely smashing teams left, right and centre. Japan seem to be progressing strongly to keep their 2050 World Cup pledge in mind.
As part of the pledge, Japan’s Football Association have made it an objective for Japan to win a FIFA World Cup before 2050. If they can continue producing such world-class footballers and making them play so well together, it won’t be surprising if that dream becomes a reality.