GUIMARAES, PORTUGAL - APRIL 7: Mina Tanaka of Japan Women celebrates 1-2 with Yui Hasegawa of Japan Women, Hina Sugita of Japan Women during the International Friendly Women match between Portugal Women v Japan Women at the Estadio D Afonso Henriques on April 7, 2023 in Guimaraes Portugal (Photo by Eric Verhoeven/Soccrates/Getty Images)

FIFA Women's World Cup 70 Day Countdown: Day 7 - Japan Snapshot

As we enter day seven of Edge of the Crowd’s electrifying 70-day countdown to the highly anticipated 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re diving headfirst into a whirlwind tour of the fierce and fabulous teams gracing this year’s tournament.

Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep an eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.

Rounding out Group C, is Japan.

FIFA Women's World Cup appearances: 8 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019)

Best Performance in a FIFA Women's World Cup: Champions (2011)

Players to watch

Hasegawa Yui has become a constant figure in Japan's squad since her debut in 2017, racking up 63 caps and 14 goals. The attacking midfielder can play through the centre and on the left side and has proven to be one of the most versatile players in the midfield currently.

An effective playmaker if coach Futoshi Ikeda chooses to play her in the centre midfield she'll lead Japan's forward press, while also stepping up defensively with an intense final third counter-press, a skill she's stepped up since joining Manchester City in 2022.

Captain Kumagai Saki will be essential for Japan's World Cup campaign. One of the few players in the squad that played in Japan's 2011 Championship-winning team, likely to sit in the centre back role, Kumagi can be relied on to push forward into a more defensive mid role when needed.

2023 form

Japan hasn't had the best start to 2023 losing three and winning two of its five matches, however, the team has beaten stiff competition including the Olympic Champions Canada at the She Believes tournament. One of Japan's losses also included going down 1-0 against the reigning World Cup Champions, the United States.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: The defensive unit has kept the Nadeshiko in matches many would have considered a write-off. With the main back four all playing over 30 international matches, the experienced backline could be the difference in this year's campaign.

It's rare for a team to put a massive score on Japan, often only going down by a goal or two. The side has kept five clean sheets in the past two years.

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Weaknesses: Often slow starters, the Nadeshiko have given up a goal inside the first half in five of their past seven matches, including goals inside the first 10 minutes against Spain and Denmark.

Additionally, one of the team's major weaknesses is recent years is that they struggle outside of Japan. In 2022, the Nadeshiko had an unbeaten record at home in front of small crowds, however playing abroad, their record since November 2022 is 5-2, all in front of larger crowds than at home. At the World Cup, Japan will be playing in New Zealand in the Group Stage in stadiums that all have a capacity of over 25,000 seats.

Pass mark

The former Champions had a tougher time in 2019, however, the expectation will be for Japan to reach the quarter-finals, whether the Futoshi Ikeda-lead side top Group C or finish in second.

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