MX23RW : Thursday, September 23 08:18:47| >> :600:4160385:4160385:
Jul 28, 2021 at 12.30pm UK at Nissan Stadium
France U23sFrance Under-23s
Japan U23sJapan Under-23s

Pembele (58'), Michelin (66')
Kolo (74')
FT(HT: 0-2)
Kubo (27'), Sakai (34'), Miyoshi (70'), Maeda (90+1')
Tomiyasu (22'), Sakai (44')

Preview: France Under-23s vs. Japan Under-23s - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Olympic Games Men's Football clash between France Under-23s and Japan Under-23s, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Hosts Japan Under-23s have made a perfect start to their home Olympics tournament, and they will look to complete the group stage on a high when they face France Under-23s on Wednesday.

The game will kick off at 12.30pm BST at the Nissan Stadium in Yokohama, and concludes all group games in the men's football at the summer Olympics.

Match preview

Takefusa Kubo of Japan celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on July 22, 2021© Reuters

France's matches so far at the Tokyo Games have been full of goals, having conceded four against Mexico in the opening round, and they sealed three points last time out in a seven-goal thriller against South Africa.

Mexico ran riot against Sylvain Ripoll's side at the Ajinomoto Stadium last Thursday, but France's Andre-Pierre Gignac did manage to get onto the scoresheet via a penalty kick.

Ripoll made one change to the back four that struggled against Mexico, bringing in Everton's Niels Nkounkou in place of Modibo Sagnan for the game against South Africa, but the defence still conceded three goals.

However, France's defensive frailties were overpowered by their attack after Gignac netted a hat-trick and Teji Savanier scored the winner in stoppage time.

France have conceded the most goals in the Olympics so far and it has left them needing to better Mexico's result against South Africa on Wednesday to have a chance of progressing into the knockout stages.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu before the match on July 22, 2021© Reuters

Japan's home tournament could not have gone much better to date, having taken maximum points from their first two games against South Africa and Mexico.

Their opening fixture ended in three points after Real Madrid's Takefusa Kubo scored in the 71st minute, in a game which the hosts dominated in terms of chances created.

Goalkeeper Kosei Tani could not keep his second clean sheet of the competition last time out but it ultimately did not matter as Kubo and Ritsu Doan had given Japan a two-goal lead within the first 15 minutes, the game ending 2-1 to Japan.

Since the summer Olympics introduced a player-age cap in the men's football tournament, Japan's best finish was fourth in London 2012, but as hosts this time around, Hajime Moriyasu's side will be hoping to achieve a medal this year.

France Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • L
  • W

Japan Under-23s Olympic Games Men's Football form:
  • W
  • W

Japan Under-23s form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W

Team News

France coach Sylvain Ripoll before the match on July 22, 2021© Reuters

France striker Gignac is currently leading the goalscoring chart at the Tokyo Olympics after his hat-trick against South Africa along with his opening goal against Mexico, and he is sure to start again on Wednesday, offering France's biggest threat in front of goal.

The majority of the French team remained the same for the first two games; only two of the attacking midfield three - Enzo Le Fee and Arnaud Nordin - and Sagnan at centre-back lost their place in the starting lineup last time out.

Savanier and Lucas Tousart are Ripoll's trusted pair in the centre of midfield and they are expected to start against Japan, but Tousart is likely to be substituted in the second half to continue the pattern of his Olympics campaign so far.

There was only one change to the Japan starting 11 from the opening game against South Africa to the second match against Mexico - Koji Miyoshi being replaced by Yuki Soma.

Japan's back four consisting of Yuta Nakayama, Ko Itakura, Maya Yoshida and Hiroki Sakai are building a strong base at the back for the host nation, and they will start again on Wednesday to continue to strengthen ahead of the knockout stages.

France Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Bernardoni; Caci, Nkounkou, Kalulu, Michelin; Tousart, Savanier; Mbuku, Muani, Thauvin; Gignac

Japan Under-23s possible starting lineup:
Tani; Nakayama, Itakura, Yoshida, Sakai; Endo, Tanaka; Soma, Kubo, Doan; Hayashi

SM words green background

We say: France Under-23s 2-1 Japan Under-23s

France are in need of three points perhaps more than Japan, who have all but secured their place in the quarter-finals, and to leapfrog their hosts, France will have to overturn a four-goal gap.

Therefore, it is likely that France will attack the game from the start and pick up three points on Wednesday, but Japan are unlikely to allow France to catch them on goal difference.

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