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Old June 23, 2010, 11:38 AM
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al-Sagar al-Sagar is offline
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Default Denmark v Japan

Battle for second place

Specialists at this stage of the competition, if Denmark beat Japan they will reach the second round of the World Cup for the fourth time in four World Cup appearances. They also have a very good record against Asian sides, having won ten of their 15 meetings, drawing three times and losing just once.

The 2-1 win against Cameroon marked the first time that Denmark had come from behind to win a match at the World Cup, so they will be full of confidence going in to the game, as the Japanese come off the back of a defeat to Denmark.

Three of the last four goals that Japan have conceded came from shots from outside the box in open play and Wesley Sneijder's effort suggests that the Danes might be best following his lead and having a go from distance. Japan have only won one of their six meetings with European sides at the World Cup so the Danes are firm favourites to set up a potential clash with Paraguay in the second round.

Denmark player to watch: Dennis Rommedahl.
He may not extend the same influence as he has managed in the past, but the flying winger's goal was crucial in saving the game against Cameroon. Still boasting a good turn of pace, his tricks on the flanks will create plenty of chances for his team-mates and he will be one of the main attacking outlets for the Danes.

Japan player to watch: Makoto Hasebe. The Japan captain will need to lead from the front to drive his side on. A tough tackler, he also has finesse to his game and his role in the centre of the pitch will be key for his country. Still only 26, he carries the expectations of his country on his shoulders.

Key Battle: Christian Poulsen v Yasuhito Endo. The Juventus midfielder is the tiger in midfield that wins the ball back and generally causes havoc for the opposition. He is a committed tackler and has a fiery temper, but also now has the experience to keep it in check. He made an error in the Cameroon game and will be keen to atone for it, but he will have to use every bit of energy to track down Endo. A creative force, with a great delivery from set-pieces, if Japan are to claim the point they need then Endo may be key.

Trivia: Denmark have never missed a penalty at the World Cup, scoring all four of their spot-kicks.

Stats: Only in two of their 12 World Cup matches have the 'Blue Samurai' scored more than one goal and have never won a World Cup game in which their opponents have scored.

Odds: Denmark (2.25), Japan (3.40) and a draw (3.30) are all available at Bet 365, but Japan to lead at half-time, Denmark at full-time gets you 29.00.

Prediction:
A draw is enough for Japan to get through in second place, but Denmark will be going all-out in attack and should have enough to get the win.
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