JAPAN are looking to book a place in the World Cup knockout stages against all odds as they take on Costa Rica.
Few would have given the Japanese any chance of progressing to the last 16 when the draw paired them with big-hitters Spain and Germany.
But following one of the great World Cup shocks, they are now in a position to progress with a game to spare.
Samurai Blue will be heavy favourites to beat Costa Rica, who already look like they need a miracle to go through.
Indeed, for the Central Americans, a result here is vital.
SunSport takes a look at what to expect from Japan vs Costa Rica, including our score prediction.
How are they getting on?
Japan: One of the tournament’s big surprise packages after picking up a stunning 2-1 win over Germany.
That result has put them in position to effectively secure qualification if they achieve a better result against the Costa Ricans than the Germans manage against Spain.
Read the full Germany vs Japan match report…
Costa Rica: Things can only get better!
The Ticos looked the worst team in the tournament by far as they got pumped 7-0 without managing a single shot, let alone a shot on target.
Read the full Spain vs Costa Rica match report…
HOW TO GET FREE BETS ON THE WORLD CUP
Any injuries to worry about?
Japan: Japan have a clean bill of health as they look to book their place in the last 16.
But following the success of manager Hajime Moriyasu’s five substitutions in the second half against Germany he may well be tempted to shuffle the pack.
Costa Rica: In a small silver lining from their hammering against Spain, Costa Rica have no fresh injury concerns.
However, it would be difficult to claim any of Luis Fernando Suarez’s starting XI wrote their name automatically onto the team sheet with that performance. Keylor Navas is a dead cert to start in goal though.
Who will be the star men?
Japan: Former Arsenal striker Takuma Asano started on the bench against Germany.
But after his winning goal in that game, he may well be favoured for a full 90 minutes.
Gunners’ defender Takehiro Tomiyasu was also an assured presence at the back after coming on against the Germans and could start here.
Costa Rica: If the Ticos play as badly as they did against Spain then Keylor Navas will need to be in top form.
There is always an element of expectation around former Arsenal winger Joel Campbell but he will have to offer a lot more than he did on Wednesday.
What’s the head-to-head?
The two sides have never met in a tournament but have played each other five times in friendlies.
And it’s Japan who have had the whip hand in those encounters.
The Japanese have won four of their five meetings and scored three goals in each of those wins, with the other match being a 1-1 draw in Yokohama in 2002.
The teams last met in September 2018 with Japan running out 3-0 winners in Suita.
Japan 3 Costa Rica 0
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