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Japan vs Costa Rica World Cup Picks and Predictions: Samurai Blue Success Story

After upsetting Germany on Matchday 1, Japan look to continue their success in Group E against Costa Rica, who were utterly humiliated by Spain 7-0. The Blue Samurai are known for stingy defense and could ride it to another victory. See how below.

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2022 7:49 PM ET Read Time: 4 min
Takuma Asano Japan World Cup
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off the emotional rollercoaster of a shock win over Germany, Japan face Costa Rica on Sunday with a spot in the World Cup's Round of 16 suddenly within reach.

These teams could hardly have experienced more contrasting emotions in their Group E openers. Japan — contrary to expectations set by World Cup odds — rallied from a tentative first half to snatch a stunning 2-1 victory against the Germans courtesy of goals from Ritsu Doan and Takuma Asano. 

Meanwhile, Costa Rica was blown away 7-0 by a ruthless Spain team later in the day. With little time to regroup, it’s an uphill battle from here for Los Ticos in this heavyweight group.

Find out more in our World Cup betting picks and predictions for this Sunday, November 27 matchup.

Japan vs Costa Rica odds

Japan vs Costa Rica picks and predictions

Count out the Samurai Blue at your own risk! Japan’s relentless play in the second half against Germany on Wednesday was a startling turnaround after a timid first 45 minutes. But something good is brewing for Hajime Moriyasu’s men, who are emerging as sneaky dark horses at this tournament.

Taking on a wounded Costa Rica side on Sunday, I expect the Japanese to pick up right where they left off — on the front foot, attacking with pace. They ended up with 12 shots on goal against the Germans and should reach similar heights here.

Without question, this is a favorable spot for Japan. Costa Rica are coming off the type of confidence-shattering loss to Spain that lingers in the dressing room, and Luis Fernando Suarez may shuffle his starters to shake things up.

Los Ticos had just 18% of the possession in their opening defeat and looked short on answers defensively. While a Costa Rica backlash (and a better performance) is a logical response here, I just don’t see enough quality to trouble a solid Japan back four.

Samurai Blue goalkeeper Shuichi Gonda was a busy man against Germany (including a costly blunder for Germany’s go-ahead penalty), but this second group game should be a gentler outing. I like Japan to take care of business and win this game to nil.

My best bet: Japan to win to nil (+110 at bet365)

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Japan vs Costa Rica side analysis

The perception of Japan as a defense-first team can’t be washed away by one thrilling half, but the bright cameos off the bench from Doan and Asano have given Moriyasu some selection dilemmas.

It was also interesting to see how the team responded to greater attacking freedom after the half-time break. Now that the stakes are so much higher, expect to see the Samurai Blue make a steady, compact start before opening the game up.

Unsurprisingly, Costa Rica are heavy underdogs after being brushed aside so easily by the Spaniards. That performance was such a mess that it’s hard to make a case for an upset here unless goalkeeper Keylor Navas has the game of his life.

Los Ticos’ 4-4-2 formation was picked apart again and again on Wednesday, and Japan have the midfield creators to repeat the trick. That said, the short odds on the Japan moneyline don’t feel like good value and it’s too soon to trust the Samurai Blue to cash in a -1.5 or -2 line.

Japan vs Costa Rica Over/Under analysis

After such a lopsided loss, look for Costa Rica to produce a better effort on Sunday — more togetherness, more organization, and more quality on the ball. Even so, Los Ticos pack a limited punch in the final third (just 13 goals scored across their 14 qualifying games) and are unlikely to make a big contribution towards an Over/Under line here.

Most tellingly, they failed to register a single shot on goal on Wednesday as Spain quickly took a stranglehold on the game. With barely any service, Anthony Contreras and ex-Arsenal man Joel Campbell rarely looked like making a breakthrough — and they may again be feeding off scraps in this matchup.

As for Japan, much depends on which version of this team turns up, but I’m counting on Moriyasu to have his players fired up to build on the dramatic first game. With those three points in their back pocket, the Samurai Blue won’t need to take unnecessary risks to chase a victory, but confidence should be coursing through the Japan squad after upsetting Germany.

The Under feels like the safer play on Sunday, given that this has the makings of a cagey battle and a 1-0 win would suit Japan just fine.

Japan vs Costa Rica game info

Location: Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar
Date: Sunday, November 27, 2022
Time: 5:00 a.m. ET

Japan vs Costa Rica key injuries

Japan: Hidemasa Morita CM (Questionable).
Costa Rica: None.

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