MX23RW : Saturday, July 31 12:16:17| >> :600:1375490:1375490:
Jun 11, 2021 at 11.25am UK at NOEVIR Stadium Kobe
Ito (48')
FT(HT: 0-0)

Joveljic (46'), Pavlovic (61')

Preview: Japan vs. Serbia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's International Friendlies clash between Japan and Serbia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Japan will be looking to win their fifth successive international match when they host a friendly encounter against European outfit Serbia on Friday.

The Samurai Blue have won 10 of their last 11 games in all competitions, while the visitors are unbeaten in each of their last eight matches.

Match preview

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu on March 30© Reuters

Since the beginning of 2021, Japan have been scoring goals for fun, particularly in two of their last three Asian World Cup qualifiers.

In March, Hajime Moriyasu's side recorded the second-biggest win in their history when they obliterated Mongolia 14-0, before thrashing Myanmar 10-0 on home soil two months later.

Japan's most recent qualification match saw them win 4-1 at home to Tajikistan, with goals from Kyogo Furuhashi, Takumi Minamino, Kento Hashimoto and Hayao Kawabe ensuring their 100% record remained intact.

The Samarai Blue remain at the top of Group F, 11 points clear of their nearest challengers Tajikistan, having won each of their seven qualification matches, scoring 41 goals and conceding just one in the process.

Japan, ranked 28th in the world by FIFA, have only ever faced Serbia twice in their history, losing on both occasions without scoring in 2010 and 2013.

Serbia manager Dragan Stojkovic on March 24, 2021© Reuters

After failing to qualify for Euro 2020, Serbia are facing a quiet few months on the international stage, with just two fixtures in June before they continue their 2022 World Cup qualification campaign in September.

Their first was a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to Jamaica, with Strahinja Pavlovic cancelling out Andre Gray's first-half opener.

Serbia were much better in their opening three World Cup qualifiers in March, with a 2-2 draw against Euro 2016 winners Portugal sandwiched between 3-2 and 2-1 victories against the Republic of Ireland and Azerbaijan respectively.

These three results have helped the Eagles move up to second in Group A, level on points with Portugal at the summit.

Dragan Stojkovic's men – ranked 25th in the world by FIFA – are unbeaten in each of their last six international matches across all competitions, with their last defeat on the road against Russia in September 2020.

Japan form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Serbia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D

Team News

Serbia's Aleksandar Mitrovic celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates on March 27, 2021© Reuters

Japan boss Moriyasu has seemingly decided to make Shuichi Gonda his number-one choice goalkeeper, after using different stoppers in three of their last four international matches prior to their victory against Myanmar.

Marseille left-back Yuto Nagatomo could be brought into the starting lineup at the expense of Sho Sasaki, while Shinnosuke Nakatani and Gen Shoji could keep their places at centre-back.

Liverpool's Minamino – who is the top goalscorer in the Asian qualifiers with nine – is expected to start in an advanced midfield role, with either Takuma Asano or Yuya Osako set to lead the line up front.

As for Serbia, attackers Aleksandar Mitrovic, Dusan Tadic, Luka Jovic and Dusan Vlahovic are all notable absentees from the squad, so striker Dejan Joveljic could be handed just his second international cap up front.

18-year-old Nemanja Jovic could join him in attack, while experienced midfielders Nemanja Gudelj and Nemanja Maksimovic – who have more caps than the rest of Serbia's 18-man squad combined – may partner one another in the middle of the pitch.

Japan possible starting lineup:
Gonda; Sakai, Nakatani, Shodi, Nagatomo; Morita, Endo; Ito, Kamada, Minamino; Osako

Serbia possible starting lineup:
Rajkovic; Petkovic, S. Mitrovic, Spajic, Terzic; Gavric, Gudelj, Maksimovic, Grujic; N. Jovic, Joveljic

SM words green background

We say: Japan 2-0 Serbia

Serbia have been victorious in both of their previous meetings against Japan, winning 3-0 in April 2010 and 2-0 in October 2013.

However, with a depleted squad, the visitors may struggle to pose an attacking threat against the Samurai Blue, and we feel that the hosts have a greater strength in depth to enable them to come out on top in Kobe.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Great BritainGreat Britain891128
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Saturday's key events

· After silvers in both the men's and women's events, Team GB will be fancied to get on the podium again in the mixed relay (11.30pm-1am)

· Touted as Michael Phelps's successor, Caeleb Dressel already has two gold medals from these Games and he will be going for a third in the men's 50m butterfly final (2.30am)
· It is Katie Ledecky vs. Ariarne Titmus III in the women's 800m freestyle final, with Ledecky entering as firm favourite (2.46am)
· Great Britain will be heavily fancied to add another gold medal to their swimming haul, having produced by far the fastest qualifying time for the mixed 4x100m medley relay final (3.43am)

· Dina Asher-Smith is one of three British women in the 100m semi-finals (3.01am-3.20am), and will hope to challenge for a medal in what is likely to be a star-studded final (1.50pm)
· The inaugural Olympic 4x400m mixed relay event concludes with Great Britain one of the eight finalists going for gold (1.35pm)

· Team GB's dreams of an unlikely gold are still alive in the women's event as they face France in their semi-final (3.30am). The winners will face either New Zealand or Fiji in the gold medal match later in the day (10am)

· Gold medals are up for grabs in the windsurfer - RS:X finals. Emma Wilson participates for Team GB in the women's final (6.33am), while Tom Squires is in action in the men's (7.33am)

· Following his shock semi-final defeat, ending his hopes of a Golden Slam in 2021, Novak Djokovic battles for bronze against Pablo Carreno Busta (7am)
· The women's singles event reaches its conclusion with the gold medal match between Belinda Bencic and Marketa Vondrousova

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