Japan vs U.A.E
Asia – 2018 World Cup Qualifier
Date: Thursday; 1-September-2016
Kick-off: 11:35 UK
Venue: Saitama Stadium.

The Asian football powerhouse Japan resume their World Cup qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 by hosting UAE for their first match of the third round.

Japan hardly break a sweat in the second round as they eased past the opponents fairly too easy. They won 7 and drawn 1 of their 8 matches and scored a massive 27 goals, keeping 8 consecutive clean sheets. Keisuke Honda scored 6 times, while Shinji Kagawa found the back of the net five times during the second round.

UAE on the other hand, finished behind Saudi Arabia in the second round of qualifiers. They won 5, drawn 2 and lost 1 during the second phase of qualification matches. They also kept a healthy goal aggregate to 25-4. They 25-year old Al-Ahli forward Ahmed Khalil scored 11 goals during the stage and is a key player to watch for the Emirates team in the upcoming round.

Japan vs UAE: Head-to-Head

The teams had met only five times in the last 11 years, with three of those coming in friendlies. It is an even record as both teams share 2 wins and a draw.

Their latest meeting was during the quarter finals of the 2015 AFC Asia cup held in Australia. UAE got the better of Japan that time by eliminating them in the penalty-shootout.

Japan vs UAE: Prediction

Both teams had relatively easy ride into the third round of qualification stage. And it is hard to judge them based of their performance in the second round or head-to-head.

UAE haven’t done well coming against teams of higher quality. They failed to win both their matches against Saudi Arabia in the second round and suffered defeats in their last three friendlies against Jordan, Syria and North Korea.

But Japan has a far better quality players and are tactically sound. Also they do their business with discipline once they reach this stage of the qualifiers. With home advantage at their side, they must win this without much trouble.

I do back Japan to win this one with a clean sheet, however I believe this could be a narrow win as UAE are expected to pack their defense.

Japan vs UAE: Betting Tips

Japan to win at 2/7 1.28
Only Japan to score at 8/11 (1.72).