Zaccheroni plots homeland’s downfall
© AFP

There were differing fortunes for Italy and Japan in their opening matches at the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013. While Italy were full value for their 2-1 over Mexico at the Maracana, Japan failed to fire against A Seleção in the opening match. Now both sides travel to the Arena Pernambuco in Recife for their second game in Group A.

The game
Italy-Japan, Wednesday 19 June, Recife, 19:00 (local time)

The stakes
The game will be unusual for Japan coach Alberto Zaccheroni who was born in Meldola, a north Italian town and who, prior to his appointment with Samurai Blue in 2010, had never worked outside his home country. The former AC Milan, Lazio and Inter Milan coach will come up against Cesare Prandelli, five years his junior and a familiar face during his Serie A days, many of which were spent at Fiorentina.

Depending on Brazil’s match with Mexico earlier in the day, a win for Japan could leave Group A wide open, while defeat may also send them home prematurely. Conversely, Gli Azzurri who have never lost to Japan, may well stamp their ticket to the semi-finals with three points.  

The stat
3 -
 All three previous FIFA Confederations Cup meetings between Japan and European teams ended with a single-goal margin separating the sides. After losing 1-0 to France in 2001 and 2-1 to the same team in 2003, the east Asians edged Greece 1-0 in 2005.

The words 
Japan will have the slight edge, I think, because they have an extra day of rest. Plus, Alberto knows us very well, he knows how we work. I expect him to prepare a trap for us. From tonight, we will begin planning for the Japan game. I trust that he will come up with an interesting strategy against us,” Italy coach Cesare Prandelli..

“Pirlo? He’s the head of the team. A fantastic footballer. We’re going to have to put him off his stride early in the match. Italy have always had a great team. They’re defensively sound and supremely well organised,” Japan midfielder Makoto Hasebe.