Japan Under-23s and Mexico Under-23s will compete for the bronze medal on Friday (tomorrow) lunchtime at the Saitama Stadium 2002. With their hopes of Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020 now dead, here is our football prediction – Japan vs Mexico.
The hosts’ Olympic dream came to an end in the semi-finals when Spain defeated them in extra time (football prediction).
Meanwhile, Brazil’s young stars outclassed Mexico were from the 12 yards line (the football news).
- Takehiro Tomiyasu with Japan returns for the bronze medal match after serving a suspension against Spain. This may force Manchester City’s Ko Itakura to drop out of the backline.
- With the return of the Bologna man, Japan is well-stocked ahead of their shot at glory.
- However, Moriyasu is now under pressure to find the right attacking formula for Friday’s game.
- Daichi Hayashi had his team’s trust from the first whistle in the semi-final but failed to make the net ripple. His failure implies that opportunities for Daizen Maeda or Ayase Ueda to lead the frontline could exist.
Japan Under-23s possible starting lineup: Tani; Sakai, Yoshida, Tomiyasu, Hatate; Endo, Tanaka; Doan, Kubo, Soma; Hayashi
- Mexico also has a player back from suspension in Jorge Sanchez. He could play at right or left back in place of Vladimir Lorona or Jesus Angulo.
- Rodriguez was only able to play as a substitute after returning from suspension in the semi-final. But the 24-year-old could now return to the midfield in place of Jose Esquivel.
- Lozano will be likely to stick with his attacking trident of Uriel Antuna, Henry Martin, and Alexis Vega. This means that Real Betis starlet Diego Lainez may have to settle for a bench spot once more.
Mexico Under-23s possible starting lineup: Ochoa; Sanchez, Montes, Vasquez, Angulo; Romo, Rodriguez, Cordova; Antuna, Martin, Vega
Football Prediction – Japan vs Mexico
- While the 2020 Games lacked the raucous home crowds that Japan’s players desired, Hajime Moriyasu’s team have still performed admirably. They continued without a loss through the group stage and defeated New Zealand on penalties in the tournament’s final eight.
- Japan’s efforts, however, met in a difficult match against Spain. Still, they held their own for 115 minutes until Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio curled in a delightful left-footed effort. This ended the host nation’s hopes of winning the gold medal, but not the bronze.
- South Korea’s 2-0 victory in London 2012 forced Japan to settle for fourth place in the bronze medal match. However, this time, South Korea were simply outgunned and outclassed by Mexico in a 6-3 thrashing.
- Jaime Lozano’s side then advanced to the final four, where they faced, and lost to, Brazil. As with Japan and Spain, both teams were unable to separate themselves over the course of a goalless 90 minutes. Thus, the score remained 0-0 even after extra time, setting up a battle of nerves from the penalty spot.
The return of Tomiyasu is a significant boost for a Japan team that already has well-known names in its ranks.
Plus, the host nation knows what it takes to beat Mexico. After all, they did exactly that in the group stages less than two weeks ago.
Lozano’s men demonstrated their goal-scoring prowess against South Korea, but both sides’ fatigue implies it won’t be a high-scoring affair.
On Friday, we predict Japan to narrowly win this match and claim only their second-ever medal in men’s Olympic football.