Brazil and Japan were two of the three fastest qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup with neither side seriously stretched during qualifying. Brazil secured their place in Russia way back in March having dominated qualifying in South America while Japan emerged as winners of their group in Asia to do likewise in August.
However Asian football remains weak by global standards and against a side of Brazil’s calibre, they are likely to come seriously unstuck. The Japanese do try to play football and have some players of technical quality, however defensively they are vulnerable against the better sides. They were unconvincing in friendlies against sides from other parts of the world last month, beating New Zealand 2-1 and drawing 3-3 with Haiti.
Their last game against what you might class as a top ten side in the world was against Brazil in a friendly back in 2014. It ended in a heavy 4-0 defeat. It came just a couple of months after a disappointing World Cup campaign that saw them collect just one point.
It’s doubtful whether Japan have seriously improved since then but Brazil certainly have. Under the management of Tite, they’ve enjoyed a dominant year or so, suffering just 1 defeat in 15 matches since the 2016 Copa America. With Neymar and Gabriel Jesus forming a destructive strike partnership, they are clearly a threat going forward but it’s at the back where they’ve made great strides since the humiliation of their 2014 World Cup exit.
Brazil have conceded just 4 goals in those 15 matches and have been very tough to break down with Casemiro providing great protection in midfield for a more settled and solid back four. With hardly any significant absentees here, Japan will find it very tough to find a breakthrough and backing Brazil to Win to Nil looks like the value bet.