MX23RW : Saturday, July 21 19:12:07

Match Analysis: Japan 0-0 Greece

Sports Mole analyses Japan's goalless draw with Greece in their World Cup Group C clash.

Japan and Greece faced off in their World Group C clash in Natal on Thursday night following defeats in their opening games.

However, neither side was able to find a breakthrough in the 90 minutes, despite Fernando Santos's side being reduced to 10 men in the first half when captain Kostas Katsouranis was sent off.

Here, Sports Mole analyses the game to see if the draw was a fair result.

Match statistics

Shots: 18
On target: 4
Possession: 74
Corners: 5
Fouls: 23

Shots: 9
On target: 7
Possession: 26
Corners: 7
Fouls: 18

Was the result fair?

Japan lacked the quality in the final third to get the goal they needed to secure the win as time and again they spurned decent chances to put a ball into the box. Following the sending-off of Katsouranis, Santos's side's objectives in the game changed to just try to get a point, and they achieved that with resolute defending and they did look a threat on the counter-attack. No team deserved to take all three points, as both sides had their deficiencies.

Japan's performance

Alberto Zaccheroni's side weren't at their best as they were unable to break down the 10 men of Greece. Keisuke Honda was unable to have much of an effect on the game, while the rest of the Japan forwards were unimpressive in front of goal bar Yuya Osako, who had brief moments in the first half. Defensively they were troubled occasionally by Theofanis Gekas and Jose Holebas down the left, as they were hit on the counter regularly in the second half. Shinji Kagawa had a minor impact on the game when he arrived from the bench, but overall Japan just didn't display the quality they needed to in order to secure the win.

Greece's performance

Greece looked a bit disjointed in the first half as they were not really a threat when they had 11 men. Going down to 10 men may have actually suited them as they were allowed to just shut up shop for the rest of the match after Katsouranis was dismissed. Defensively in the second half they were as solid as could be as Kostas Manolas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos were rocks at the heart of the defence. Panagiotis Kone provided an outlet on the break and they could have sneaked the game had Gekas's header found the net, but Santos will be pleased that his side are still alive in the tournament after this game.

Sports Mole's man of the match

Kostas Manolas: The defender was in excellent form throughout the match as he made several great interceptions and tackles to blunt the Japanese attacks. The Olympiacos man's positional sense was also displayed as he always seemed to be in the right place to clear the ball. Another strong showing from Manolas following his performance in his side's defeat to Colombia.

Biggest gaffe

After being booked in the 27th minute Katsouranis was already on thin ice with the referee, but he then decided to hack down his opposite number Makoto Hasebe in the 40th minute to earn himself a red card. He left his side vulnerable which on another day could have cost them.

Referee performance

Joel Aguilar was right to send off Katsouranis, but every decision after that seemed affect his performance. Aguilar seemed desperate to even things out by giving Greece a lot of free kicks early in the second half, which could have seen them take the lead. By the end of the game things seemed to have evened out, so the official ended the match strongly.

What next?

Japan: Zaccheroni's side face Colombia, who are already in the last 16 of the competition, on June 24.

Greece: Santos's men take on the Ivory Coast on June 24 in Fortaleza.

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Yoshito Okubo of Japan controls the ball against Giorgos Samaras of Greece during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match on June 19, 2014
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Result: Japan held by 10-man Greece

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