Japan quest for an Olympic gold medal in the men’s football tournament will face a massive challenge in Spain when the sides meet in the semi-finals on Tuesday.
Japan has all the weight on their backs to win a medal. Spain now feels less pressure than before, all the criticism of La Roja turned into praise.
The Japanese ended their group stage with three wins from three with a perfect 9 points note.
Spain had a mediocre performance in Group C with only 1 win and 2 draws but it was enough to advance to the quarterfinals.
The sides last met at the 2012 London Olympics, where Japan pulled off a stunning 1-0 victory in the group stages.
Before that, these two had locked horns in the 1968 edition, and then spoils were shared with a 0-0 draw.
Japan has a positive record against Spain. Two games against La Roja, one victory and one draw. The only victory of the Japanese over the spanish team was in London 2012.
Spain won a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games.
Japan has the advantage of playing at home.
Japan had won all of their group stage games, and that too in style. They have one of the brightest prospects in world football at the moment, and the youngster has risen to the occasion.
Japan have done really well on home soil thus far, although they really struggled against New Zealand, going 120 minutes without a goal.
Spain also had to slog it out against Ivory Coast but eventually ran out 5-2 victors. The momentum going into this game is firmly in Spain’s favor.
It will be close but a victory for Spain is the most likely outcome.
Our prediction: Spain win @ 2.45