International friendly preview: Japan v Brazil
By Football News
In-form Japan tackle Brazil in a friendly in Wroclaw, Poland on Tuesday looking for their second big scalp in a week.
Alberto Zaccheroni's Japan side continued their superb 2012 with a surprise 1-0 friendly win over France on Friday and have surged up the world rankings to 23 this year after only two losses in the past 15 clashes in all competitions.
Undefeated in their last four fixtures, including a World Cup qualifying win over Iraq (1-0) and the 1-0 win over France in Paris, Japan's talented generation of young players appear to be finally making a mark.
The country's under-23 squad defeated world champions Spain 1-0 at the Olympics in July in what was another testament to the development of the game in Japan, and Zaccheroni will steadfastly stick to his attacking philosophy regardless of the opponent.
"I don't want to see Japan hold back and defend. We will fight with courage," Zaccheroni said on Monday.
"Playing strong teams from Europe or South America gives Japan valuable experience for the improvement of the team.
"There are not many big changes to the squad, but picking it was difficult. There are more players who I wanted to call up. It shows the depth in Japanese soccer."
Brazil may have dropped to 14th in the world rankings but are also in some stellar form.
A trio of friendly wins over China, Argentina and Iraq were notable, not least for the 16 goals the forthcoming World Cup hosts scored while letting only one in down the other end.
Japan could well be the first nation to qualify for Rio in 2014 having all but secured their place with three games to go in Asian qualifying.
In team news, Real Madrid left back Marcelo will miss the clash and the next three months with a broken foot sustained during squad training in Poland.
Rested for the France clash, Keisuke Honda could come in despite Manchester United's Shinji Kagawa enhancing his profile with every game he plays for club and country.
Zaccheroni has had a dilemma on his hands for the better part of a year, with both stars preferring to play in the 'hole', and the Italian must decide what is best for team balance.
CSKA Moscow's Honda is no longer the poster boy for Japanese football with Kagawa now looming large in that picture.
But the conundrum will be seen by most as an embarrassment of riches, such is the breadth of Japan's talent at present, with Zaccheroni having the luxury of leaving out Honda or Kagawa or interchanging them as he chooses.
The game should be an entertaining one and one in which Japan will hope to avenge a humbling 4-1 loss at the 2006 World Cup In Germany, the last time the sides met.