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Japan v Greece: Kagawa to shine as Ethniki bow out

| 19.06.2014

After losing their opening games both Japan and Greece are in desperate need of a win as the second round of group games reaches Group C.

Japan can build on some positives after narrowly losing 2-1 to the Ivory Coast but Greece, renowned for their defensive capabilities, have it all to prove after a 3-0 thumping at the hands of Colombia.

Defeat could leave either side booking an early plane home but as these three best bets show Greece should be the more worried of the two.

Japan (-1) to beat Greece @ 31/10

Greece carry a reputation for being a solid defensive unit but this myth was blown out of the water by Colombia last time out.

In truth, this reputation is borne more from a lack of attacking talent than from any tactical nous or natural flair for defending.

Ethniki have now won just one of their last five games while Japan racked up five successive victories before the World Cup and beat Greece in their only previous meeting in 2005.

With the match betting odds placing Japan as prohibitive 6/5 favourites and Greece looking the shyest team in front of goal it could pay to take the longer 31/10 on the handicap.

Over 2.5 goals to be scored @ 23/20

It might seem odd to back over 2.5 goals when one team looks completely devoid of attacking know-how but with Greece shipping five goals in their last two games it’s certainly worth considering.

On their day Japan can attack with the best of them and with six of their last seven matches yielding three or more goals expect them to add to their tally here.

Shinji Kagawa to score first @ 8/1 or anytime @5/2

You wouldn’t normally get this big a price on Japan’s superstar midfielder but by the time the game against Greece kicks off the Manchester United man will have gone a whole year without scoring for club or country.

This shouldn’t put you off though. The 25-year-old has netted 19 times in 57 internationals including three in four 2014 friendlies.

With Greece sure to employ negative tactics and invite wave after wave of Japanese attacks you can count on the Red Devil ending his drought.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.