England versus Japan – World Cup friendly

Japan acquitted themselves quite well today against a rather disjointed England team

The English media are going to have a field day over this result. It would be nice if they actually supported their national team but then it wouldn’t be England now would it.

I didn’t think its possible for a team to play so poorly against a team who played quite well and win but England did it. Their second half was much better then the first both defensively and offensively. They maintained possession a little more and actually had decent opportunities to score but lets not gloss over anything. England were very poor and this sort of play will not do them any favors in South Africa.

Kudos to Japan as they proved they belong at the WC and should give their Group E opponents some trouble. They just got to maybe deal with clearing incoming crosses a little better!

TWEEET TWEET TWEET – Game over…thank god.

90:00 – Japan take a corner and a random touch has the ball bounce of the England bar. That would have been a comical goal as neither team had any idea what was happening.

89:00 – From the resulting goal kick Gerrard gets the ball on the wing and sends a lovely cross into the box that Heskey dives onto but his header is just wide. Better from England. One would hope that next time they play (June 12th) they will have their “stuff” together.

88:00 – Japan with a free kick about 45 yards out. Specialist Honda lines it up but his shot goes over the bar. Really raining hard here in Austria.

83:00 – GOOOOOALLL – Ashley Cole. That was more of a cross than anything else and actually is an own goal by Nakazawa. It was a difficult cross to deal with as was Joe Coles but England now lead 2-1.

82:00 – SWP gets the ball and moves it across the halfway line and tries to play in Heskey who lumbers onto it but can’t keep it in play.

81:00 – England pass it around nicely with some nice one twos between Rooney and Gerrard with the latter latching onto it but is well muscled out. Nicer from the three lions.

75:00 – Heskey on for Lennon. Lets see if him and Rooney can create that “magic” they have together.

72:00 – GOOOOOOALLL. Tanaka – own goal. Sadly for Japan. Joe Cole is played in nicely and sends in a low cross that Tanaka dives for and heads into his own net. Tanaka also gave up the penalty. You got the sense the goal was coming but this was unlucky. England 1 – Japan 1

71:00 – Meanwhile SWP reminds us why he should not be on the plane as he shows too much of the ball and gets caught in possession. He tries to win the ball back tenaciously but fails.

69:00 – England showing some intent as they start to boss the midfield. Lampard finds Rooney who shoots a curling ball toward the top corner but Kawashima makes a fine save and it goes out for a corner.

67:00 – Freshly introduced sub Morimoto, turns and shoots and pulls out a fine save from Hart. A nice play from Japan but Hart is more than equal to the task.

64:00 – Rooney takes a long shot pretty much born of frustration which is easily saved by Kawashima. England had a nice counter but Lennon’s final ball can’t find Rooney. Still not impressive by England.

58:00 – SWP playing like his England spot is on the line and doing well at going at the Japanese defenders but the ball is lost. England are getting being frustrated by a well organized Japanese team.

56:00 – WOW…terrible penalty miss by Lampard (though a nice save from the keeper). This is a new low for England. They are playing better but amusingly, they are burned from the spot!

54:00 – SWP showing some initiative as he lunges and charges for three successive balls and then runs down the ball. Lampard gets fouled and sends the free kick into the ball but its punched clear by the defender. Penalty.

53:00 – England playing a little more organized football here. Really its not hard to improve on the first half but at this point anything is good.

51:00 – Honda sends in a crack of shot that just goes over. Should have been a corner bit what a shot out of nothing by the Japanese midfielder.

TWEEET – Second half is under way and England kick it off. Gerrard has a shot at goal that is saved by the keeper but England are already playing better. This means they struck three consecutive passes together.

So no first team 11 on for the second half. Hart on for James, Joe Cole on for Bent, Carragher on for Johnson, Gerrard on for Huddlestone and SWP for Walcott…Well I guess he needs to see everyone…

Not playing very inspired football

PEEEEP – Halftime. Japan scored a well taken goal and England were just plain awful. Not much else to say.

43:00 – Walcott has gotten the memo to wake up as well and sends a nice cross into the box after going around two defenders. This is all too late though as the half is winding down. I really hope that Capello inserts subs who will be starting on June 12th or at least players who are going to be more creative and show a little more Oomph.

41:00 – Aaron Lennon beginning to wake up now as he uses his pace to push the ball around the Japanese half but suffers a bit from the Walcotts and his final pass is poor.

39:00 – Technical problems effecting us here at TSG studios but nothing has been missed. England showing very little creativity and aside from Rooney and Huddlestone not laying well. This is very poor from England.

30:00 – Route 1 football nearly pays off but Bents header goes wide. England cannot get any rhythm. I would be easy to say that England are playing badly which they are but that would take the credit away from Japan who are very organized and keeping great shape and possession, everything that England arn’t.

26:00 – Slick passing by Japan as England are not in sync at all. The back 4 should be organized and are cleaning up for the mistakes being made by the 4 up front.

21:00 – Ferdinand makes his customary one big mistake a game and completely wiffs at a bouncing ball and Okazaki latches onto it but sends his shot over the bar. The United defender can be world class but he can also be a liability when he’s not concentrating.

19:00 – England are just making wayward passes. Rooney drives at the Japanese defenders and sends in a lovely through ball for Lennon who one times it straight at Kawashima. Decent save from the keeper but Lennon should have done a lot better.

16:00 – England give up another corner. The game has become a bit of a bore though England not looking too sharp on set plays. England through some confusion clear without any problems.

10:00 – Japan keep pressing and look for a second but the strikers shot is wide of the post. England wake up and are trying to maintain possession but they’re a little dis-jointed. Look for Capello to play a more refined side in the second half…or will he keep experimenting?

7:00 – GOOOOOAL – Tanaka. Great worked goal by Japan. From a corner its played low on the ground and the defender rushes in and beats Johnson and taps it in. Very poor from England but a well worked corner. England 0 – Japan 1

4:00 – England are going all on the speed front using both Lennon and Walcott down the wings. Walcott is fouled down the left side but Lampards free kick goes out for a thrown in.

2:00 – A long kick from David James finds Darren Bent’s head which in turn is chased by Rooney. His slow cross though is easily saved by the keeper, Narazaki.

TWEEEET and Japan kick it off


Japan have not started their world cup friendlies very well as they were 3-0 and 2-0 losers to Serbia and South Korea respectively. On june 4th they will meet the Ivory Coast in switzerland in their last match before they start their WC campaign against Cameroon on June 14th.

They’ve made every WC since 1998 hosting it and getting past the group stages in 2002 but not much is expected of them in South Africa. They’re a neat and tidy side with Shunsuke Nakamure being their most well known current player. He was a dynamic midfielder for Celtic between 2005-09.

We here at TSG are also tinkering in preparation for the World Cup.


England were 3-1 winners in their last match against a much better Mexican side. They didn’t play well but they still won and did it missing a third of their starting lineup. Other group C members were in action in the past two days as Algeria lost 3-0  to Ireland and the US were 2-1 winners against Turkey.

Today they will give run outs to Huddlestone and Daren Bent to see if they can make the final 23 roster. Capello says he knows 20 but that there are 3 spots left.

The line ups:

England: David James, Glen Johnson, Ashley Cole, Tom Huddlestone, Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Theo Walcott, Frank Lampard, Darren Bent, Wayne Rooney, Aaron Lennon.

Japan: Seigo Narazaki, Atsuto Uchida, Yuji Nakazawa, Tulio Tanake, Yuto Nagatomo, Junichi Inamoto, Makoto Hasebe, Shunsuke Nakamura, Keisuke Honda, Daisuke Matsui, Shinji Okazaki.


Good morning all,

All the WC team are going through their various warm up games and friendlies in order to prepare and do last minute tinkering, I’m doing the same thing from the point of view of getting up early to do live commentary. What combination of pre-night activity will have me best suited to be sharp and witty? Is coffee important or do i just stay awake drinking dark and stormies? Do I sleep in my bed or on the couch or not sleep at all? Is their a Bornstein equivalent in my preparation? I certainly hope not!

21 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 5:35 AM

    Should be a good test. Japan seem to be very well organised, and reset very quickly when they don’t have the ball. Interesting to see how England (try to) break them down.


  2. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 5:43 AM

    Lennon should have scored. Great build up play from Rooney – I bet a left-footed player would have buried it.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 5:48 AM

      England have been pretty poor over all. Both FBs haven’t got into the game. They just don’t have any rhythm. Credit to Japan for pressing, but England cannot even do the basics well. First touch has been poor.


  3. Posted by mweene on 2010/05/30 at 5:57 AM

    i agree with george though i am particularly not conftable with the way England is playing.


  4. Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 6:01 AM

    This is a little better. England are playing with an increased tempo.


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/05/30 at 6:04 AM

      A little better is still plain awful. It is an odd line up but they should really be doing better. That said i’m impressed by the Japanese side. They’re well organized and not making any rash passes, or mistakes. Not that England have been very troubling but credit to the Group E side.


      • Posted by mweene on 2010/05/30 at 6:07 AM

        to me England arnt favorites, unless they change


      • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 6:07 AM

        England need to be more patient. The problem with the hopefuls, is that they’re just trying too hard, trying to play that special ball, where they should be keeping it short and simple – far too much unnecessary turnover from speculative balls. Bent has been anonymous.


  5. Posted by mweene on 2010/05/30 at 6:03 AM

    if England is to go to South Africa as favorites then they have to prove it, otherwise panicing to beat Japan is by far a poor sign.lets wait and see……………………


  6. Posted by Fireball on 2010/05/30 at 7:09 AM

    I expected more from England in their second game. Two strange, disorganized halves from England, while the US had only one. If they make that many possession mistakes against us we have a chance.

    Still, England’s overall quality and strength on the wings may be too much for our weakness on the wings. Capello has them winning despite disorganization. Should be an interesting match.


  7. Posted by BW on 2010/05/30 at 7:09 AM

    wow – how completely unsatisfying. if anyone in the group gifts England 3 point like that I’m gonna be pissed. Especially if it’s Mr. Bornstein.


    • Posted by sfshwebb on 2010/05/30 at 7:10 AM

      Bornstein will not even be allowed in the stadium let alone the bench let alone in the game. Sadly for England they will not be so lucky!


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 7:21 AM

      The 2nd half was much better, we played at a much better tempo and we kept hold of the ball, but to be fair, apart from shooting from range we didn’t create much. The quality of the delivery was key to the goals, but the 1st goal was completely avoidable, where the 2nd was very unlucky. Lampard should have put the penalty away and needs to strike the ball better – and mix up where he puts them.

      England have 2 weeks to fine tune, and they still have work to do. It was still an experimental side, so if you think this is representative of what you’ll face on 12th June, you’ll be in for a very rude awakening.

      Joe Cole surely did enough to get a spot on the 23. Wanted to see Adam Johnson but saw Shaun Wright-Phillips have another ineffective game.


      • Posted by KMac on 2010/05/31 at 4:41 AM

        Fair point about not the results not being representative. What do you think will change in the line up, tactics or performance vis a vis the Japan or Mexico games for the three lions? What are the major components of the rude awakening?
        Just curious to hear your perspective, having watched both games myself. To be frank, considering the unlucky own goals conceded by Japan and the missed penalty by Lamps, what are England holding back that I didn’t see in their most recent form? I personally was very underwhelmed by England in both games and very little to fear.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/01 at 6:33 AM


          It was clear that against Mexico, we missed a DM’s presence in front of the back 4 – putting Carrick and Milner there just didn’t seem to work. Mexico got a lot of change from Baines that they would never get from Cole at LB.

          Against Japan, Bent’s contribution was non-existent, and we just didn’t seem to keep hold of the ball well at all. Perhaps I should give Japan some credit, but I don’t think we should have had that much trouble with the basics. It was clear to me that the (Rooney, Gerrard &) Bent experiment didn’t work as he could hold the ball up, nor did he create space for other players to exploit.

          The key to England performing well will be a good DM nd Heskey doing what he does – we scored 34 goals in WCQ (and I know some were against minnows, but we put 9 past Croatia in 2 games). In open play, we have goals and assists in this team from all over the pitch- I don’t think the same can be said about the US,

          I also think that J. Cole is a game changer, and he has that little bit of quality which we can call upon if needed. I also think speed down both flanks presents an interesting option against your fulls backs, should we choose to play SG just behind.

          I look at the USA’s first XI, and it looks quite strong – then I look to the bench and do not see anything too special that Bradley can call upon that is proven. They might be a wild card but then again they might just wilt under the pressure. Holden and Torres can do their very pleasing-on-the-eye flicks in the middle third all day long, against a Turkey team who are not going to the WC, and already thinking about kebabs and grilled fish – but it fools nobody.


    • Posted by Kevin on 2010/05/31 at 2:35 PM

      We should come together and pay Bradley to not even dress him for that game. I don’t think he’ll take it… unless he needs new sweatpants.


  8. Posted by tnnelson on 2010/05/30 at 9:13 AM

    england is not looking like a team that is ready for a World Cup, especially not favorites. they just won off of own goals and were completely outplayed by a lesser side. they don’t look like the intimidating team that everyone thinks they are


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/05/30 at 9:25 AM

      We were far from impressive, agreed. But we were hardly outplayed. Their GK was far the busier.

      I am pretty confident our starting XI will look like our team that went through WCQ. What we saw against Mexico and Japan was a little tweaking for Plan B and C, to see what works and what doesn’t. We all know the 7 players who are not going to RSA.


      • Was Walcott in your 7?


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2010/06/01 at 8:49 AM

          No – my 23 was the same except Walcott vs. SWP and Baines vs. Warnock.

          I cannot believe it Tuesday. Seriously. I can understand Lennon getting the nod over Walcott to *start*. But I cannot fathom SWP taking Walcott’s place in the 23. I know I am biased towards Walcott, but I still believe he is “one pass away” from being unplayable for 90 minutes (meaning you can double up on him etc. but he *will* *create* *something* during the course of the game). Even Adam Johnson would have been a better inclusion for me. All I can say is that Capello and his coaching staff have had them at close quarters for 2 weeks so they have obviously seen something.

          On form, I probably would have started with Lennon. But I am gobsmacked – not necessarily because of Walcott’s exclusion, but because of SWP inclusion. I hope I am so wrong!


    • Much as I’d like to think that England has some fatal flaws that were exposed by the Japan game, pre-WC friendlies are completely meaningless. I’m sure England would have been happier to thrash Japan 6-1 than have to be embarrassed by only winning on Japan’s own goals, but in the end, the game had no more significance than our match vs. the Czech Republic. It was a last chance to finalize the roster.


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